January 2, 2024 | Townsville Fire news


Zitina Aokuso will take a moment to soak in her hundredth WNBL appearance, ahead of playing Perth. She won’t be anywhere near as anxious as she was as a nervous 19 year old on debut. Not that the centre showed it, announcing herself to the league in some style.

“I was so nervous for that game but I played with Suzy Batkovic so Suzy gave me a lot of confidence coming in. I scored my first points on Liz Cambage, which was huge, I’ll never forget that.”

As a talented teenager she produced sparks of athleticism and energy in short stints off the bench, and just as much enthusiasm sitting on it.

“I remember I used to just love the celebrations, like everyone would make threes and I’d just be going crazy, so that was fun.”

And the hype girl had plenty to celebrate by the end of her rookie season with Townsville taking the title.

Team cheerleader is a role Aokuso has found herself in numerous times over 7 seasons with the Fire, while overcoming multiple injury setbacks.

“Yeah it was really tough doing an ACL and breaking my foot twice. But the club were really good about it and supported me through it, so I’m really grateful to be here and to have reached 100 games all for Townsville, I’m really proud of myself.”

The highs have outweighed the lows. Her list of achievements include 2 championships, the league’s ‘Sixth Woman’ award and becoming an Opal.

“I’ve had a lot of great leaders, a lot of vets come through and imports as well. Having them I think has really helped me develop into the player I am now and develop my skills. I’ve learnt so much and I still feel like I’ve got a lot to learn.”

“One of those leaders was Kelly Wilson and Aokuso’s a quarter of the way to reaching her former teammates major milestone.

“Yeah I was joking with Shannon about that and he was like oh are you going to do a Kelly and play 400 games and I was like oh that’s a lot of games. But we’ll see what happens.”

Z has plenty of basketball left in her career and wants to remain at the Fire for its entirety. At 26 she’s by no means the oldest player on the roster but being the club’s stalwart has aged her.

“Yeah I feel like I’m old as hell, I feel like I’m nearing 30 now. It’s kind of crazy because I’m still young, it doesn’t even feel like I’ve been here the longest. I feel old but I also don’t, if you know what I mean, if that makes sense.”

The orange army will give Aokuso extra love at the Fire Pit against the Lynx tomorrow night. To share in Z’s special moment purchase tickets here. Tip off is at 7.30 pm.