Griffin’s MVP honour

Kelsey Griffin
Kelsey Griffin

Kelsey Griffin announced herself on the international basketball scene with a standout performance for the Opals at the Asia Cup in India.

Making her debut at international level for her adopted home country, the Bendigo Spirit star was outstanding at the Asia Cup in India and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

However, there was disappointment from a team aspect.

Despite Griffin’s heroics in the final, the hot favourite Opals lost the gold medal match to outsiders Japan, 74-73.

Griffin finished the tournament with averages of 17.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals and one block per game.

She was the only Australian player named in the Asia Cup All-Star Five.

“It was an amazing achievement by a quality person,’’ Bendigo Spirit general manager Adam Tarr said.

“She’s really taken her opportunity as an Opal. She went to the training camp in the States (America) and performed well there to get selected for the Asia Cup.

“Then to go to India for the Asia Cup and put the numbers up that she did and to be named tournament MVP and in the All-Star Five is a reflection of the outstanding person and player Kelsey is.”

Opals selectors now face a tough choice for next year’s World Cup in Spain.

Under FIBA rules, the Opals can only selected one naturalised player for the World Cup. For last year’s Olympics the Opals went with point guard Leilani Mitchell.

Australia’s lack of quality point guards at the moment means Griffin could miss the boat again.

“She’s going to be a hard non-selection,’’ Tarr said of Griffin.

“She’s made the job of the coach and selectors for the World Cup very hard. The performances Kelsey showed (in India) proved that she is worthy of selection, but the rules make it hard.”

Griffin capped her superb tournament by scoring 30 points to go with 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the gold medal game.

Even that wasn’t enough as the Opals’ guards struggled offensively and they couldn’t contain Japan sharp shooter Mizushima, who nailed seven three-point bombs on her way to 26 points.

Griffin was 11-19 from the field, including 2-3 from behind the three-point arc.