The Bendigo Spirit's campaign to return to the WNBL play-offs has been further strengthened by the signing of forward Anneli Maley.
A week after securing the services of star point guard Leilani Mitchell, the Spirit recruited Maley from WNBL rival the Sydney Uni Flames.
The 22-year-old is one of the premier rebounders in the WNBL, averaging a league-best 12.1 rebounds a game last season, including a 20-rebound haul in one match against Perth.
Maley, the daughter of former NBL star Paul Maley, is also in the Australian 3x3 training squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Maley said the opportunity to play alongside Opals squad members Leilani Mitchell and Tessa Lavey and under Spirit coach Tracy York drew her to sign with a Bendigo squad that is coming off a winless 2020-21 season.
"I've known Tracy for a while and she always puts together a versatile group,'' Maley said on Tuesday.
"The idea of playing in a team that likes to run and get up the floor appeals to me.
"I've played with (Tessa) Lavey before at the AIS and I had a season with Leilani at Southside, so the chance to play with two incredible Opals is a pretty strong pull.
"Family is really important to me, so playing in Victoria and having family and people in my close circle at games means a lot."
Maley said the move to the Spirit would help her take her game to another level.
"The next step for me is being more of a threat offensively,'' she said.
"In the NBL1 I'm able to put my offensive game in play, and I think I'm capable of doing that at the next level, but the key for me is doing it more consistently.
"Putting more scoreboard pressure on the opposition and being confident to take shots is what I'm working on.
"It would be cool to be known as not just a rebounder. I want to be an offensive threat as well."
York said Maley was another world-class signing for the Spirit.
"We are extremely excited to sign Anneli to a two-year deal," she said.
"Anneli is a unique and extremely talented athlete who has represented Australia at the junior level.
"She is a relentless rebounder and fearless competitor, and we think she fits well with the team we are building and want to put on the floor."
Standing at 184cm, Maley gives away height to some opponents, but that doesn't stop her from being a force in the paint.
"Against premiers Southside, Anneli had 19 points and 17 rebounds in one game, and nine offensive rebounds in another," York said.
"She had 20 rebounds against Perth, and got a double-double against Townsville with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
"Those numbers are phenomenal for her size. It shows what a monster she is on the boards."
Maley is currently playing for her home club Eltham in the NBL1 competition.
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