WBBL Preview: Manchester Mystics v Sheffield Hatters

National Basketball Performance Centre, Manchester, 2.00pm Saturday Oct 9th

The WBBL is back! The Manchester Mystics open their 2021/22 campaign on Saturday against the Sheffield Hatters, who are returning to the league after a year away. The National Basketball Performance centre is welcoming fans back into the stands and tickets can be purchased here.

Georgia Anderson. Photo Credit All Sports Photography. Mark Ferris

Back for the Mystics, captain Georgia Anderson (née Jones) returns for her 6th season. Anderson led the Mystics in scoring last season, with 17.2 ppg (second only to her 2016/17 season), assists (5.3) and steals(1.9). It was her best season as a professional from the line shooting 85.7%, while adding in some spectacular performances: scoring in double figures in all but one game and a 35 point barrage against Essex Rebels where she hit 6 threes.

Rheanne Bailey. Photo Credit: All Sports Photography. Mark Ferris.

Rheanne Bailey, also returning for her 6th Mystics season, Dominique Allen and Vanessa Akra will all provide some tough defence and rebounding for the team. Akra, voted Defensive Player of the Year in the Mystics End of Season Awards, does the hard work off the ball and closed the 2020/21 season tying her career high 10 rebounds, against Caledonia.

New signings for the team include Ann Sheaia who has completed 3 seasons with the BA London Lions in WNBL D1, averaging 11.4 ppg, and shooting 41% from beyond the arc.

Forward Lauren Thomas-Johnson rejoins the Mystics after previously playing for the team from 2016-2018. Guard Erika Williams, from California who has had stints in Mexico, Portugal and Iceland, and Mystics Academy player Josephine Vourliotis round out the current roster.

The Hatters, who are the oldest and most successful team in women’s British basketball, are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and will be looking to pick up where they left off before their extended break. They were joint third in the standings at 11-3 in 2019/20 when the season was cut short due to the pandemic.

Helen Naylor on court for the Mystics in 2020/21. Photo credit: All Sports Photography. Mark Ferris.

Coached by Vanessa Ellis, the Hatters have several returning players including Georgia Gayle, Naomi Campbell and Helen Naylor. With the Hatters out of the WBBL, players found alternatives to continue playing. Campbell suited up for Nottingham Trent in WNBL D1, Naylor played for the Mystics, quickly becoming a fan favourite, averaging 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and Gayle joined Paterna in Spain.

Sheffield head to Manchester on the back of a win over Durham last weekend, with new recruit Nyilah Jamison-Myers leading the scoring with 24 points, shooting 64% from the field. Naylor (21 points, 5 rebounds), Gayle (20 points, 8 rebounds) and Rebecca Cardenas (9 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists) combined to lead the team to a 33 point win. Another familiar face to Mystics fans, Nicolette Fong-Lyew-Quee, added in 8 assists.

Upcoming Schedule:

Oct 9th – Sheffield Hatters

Oct 16th- Caledonia Pride

Tickets available here.

National Basketball Performance Centre, Kirkmanshulme Ln, Manchester M12 4TF Map

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