Sporn ready to pass the torch to Batkovic

November 27, 2018 | Townsville Fire news

Adelaide Lightning legend Rachael Sporn says she is ready to pass the torch to Suzy Batkovic as the Chemist Warehouse WNBL’s greatest ever scorer.

Having played her 377th and final WNBL game in early 2004, Sporn has spent the best part of the past 15 years sitting beyond striking distance after retiring with an incredible 5823 points.

But after Batkovic started the season trailing by 198, the JCU Townsville Fire captain has since closed the gap to just 18 and is expected to eclipse the mark as early as Thursday’s home game against Bendigo.

Having captured a silver medal playing alongside Batkovic at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Sporn said she knew it was only a matter of time before the all-time scoring record was handed on.

“I’m a realist,” Sporn said.

“If Penny Taylor or Lauren Jackson had stayed in the league – and hadn’t played overseas – and they played as many games as I did then they would have passed me easily.

“I’ve been very proud to have that mantle because the WNBL has been a massive part of my life, but then I’m pretty stoked that it is someone like Suzy who owns the WNBL…and has won so many awards.

“It’s pretty fitting that she is going to pass me.”

Since returning to Townsville in 2013/14, Batkovic has been a scoring machine for the Fire, chalking up close to 3000 points and four of her six league MVPs.

The 37-year-old also claimed her first Rachael Sporn Medal in January, awarded to the Grand Final MVP, as she led the Fire to their third championship in four seasons and her fifth overall.

“Records are there to be broken,” Sporn said.

“I think it is wonderful when players still have that longevity in this day and age – it’s more professional and you’re training more and it is their life – but as I said, Suzy has been the (league) leader for many, many years and she is still playing like she is 25.

“I just love that she is so hard to guard. Everyone knows that she wants to go left, but she’s got everything in her repertoire.

“She’s got the three-point shot, she can take you on the drive all the way to the basket, she got the pure back to the basket post moves as well.

“But I think with Suzy, what I love is that she will get on the floor and dive after the ball and not be scared to get down on her knees and play tough and do all those one per cent things that make a great player.”

While Batkovic surpassed Sporn as the league’s greatest ever defensive rebounder earlier this season, the overall mark looks likely to remain with the retired Adelaide great who still sits more than 300 clear.

Sporn retired with 3229 rebounds, while Batkovic presently sits on 2867 in second place and has announced that 2018/19 will be her final WNBL season.

“I remember when Suzy was young and on the fringe (of the Australian side) – she would come to Opals camps and she wasn’t making the teams – but she went back and really worked on her game and her development has been just amazing.

“It’s the consistency I think with, Suzy, that she’s been able to establish in her game, but she’s a great defender as well.

“She’s great at both ends of the floor – it’s not just offensively – she can hurt you down the other end and make players change their shots when she’s in the paint.

“And she’s become such a wonderful leader over that duration and was obviously a massive part of the Opals too and their successes.

“I think that it’s really great that someone who had such a great career in Europe and even in the WNBA was happy to come back and finish off her career in the WNBL.”

The Fire host Bendigo at Townsville Stadium on Thursday night with Batkovic needing 19 points to become the WNBL’s greatest ever scorer.

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