WHILE COVID-19 has meant a shortage of competitive basketball for most WNBL players, especially in Victoria and New Wales, expect Mary Goulding to be better prepared than most when the 2020-21 season rolls around later this year.
The second-year Bendigo Spirit import has just completed a stunning season in the NBL1 West competition with East Perth Eagles, highlighted by her runner-up finish in the league's MVP voting.
Despite the Eagles' season coming to an end short of an appearance in this Friday night's grand final following a one-point loss in last weekend's semi-final against Warwick Senators, Goulding still has plenty of exciting basketball to look forward to ahead of the WNBL pre-season.
The Christchurch-born 25-year-old was this week named in a 14-player New Zealand Tall Ferns squad for the 2021 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Jordan.
To be staged from September 27 to October 3, the Cup tournament has been moved from India to Amman in Jordan.
It marks a return to the international stage for the Tall Ferns, who have not played since November 2019.
Bendigo Spirit coach Tracy York could not be happier to see Goulding get another opportunity with the national team.
"She has had a great NBL1 West season, runner-up in the MVP, a member of the All-Star Five and the league's leading rebounder," she said.
"It's been good that they have been able to keep playing and earning a Talls Fern spot has been a great reward for her.
"Mary was just Mary (in the NBL1), doing all the hard stuff. She looks fitter and faster, which is awesome, and is shooting the ball really well and attacking the basket.
"But she also does the all the little things as well.
"She was great last season for her first time in the WNBL because she just brings effort all the time.
"She's a great defender and good on offence too. I think for her, having a full NBL1 season and then heading off internationally will place her well for her time back with the Spirit."
An NBL1 season full of brilliant performances continued to the very end for Goulding, who led the Eagles with 32-points and 15-rebounds in their narrow semi-final defeat.
She averaged 24-points per game, 13.63 rebounds and 3.05 assists for the season.
Goulding, who earned First Team All-Conference honours during her senior year at Fordham University (New York) in 2018-19, first represented the Tall Ferns at the 2019 William Jones Cup in Taiwan.
The national squad includes seven players currently on WNBL rosters, including former Bendigo Spirit star Ash Karaitiana, who is signed with Melbourne Boomers.
Mary Goulding's NBL1 West season
24-points per game
Season high: 35-points v Willetton Tigers (June 12)
3.05 assists per game
13.63-rebounds per game
Season high: 23-rebounds per game v Warwick Senators (August 5)
46.77 field goal percentage
2.94-steals per game
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