State Basketball League championship-winning forward Chris Boag will return for a third season in orange and black in 2021 after re-signing with the Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames.
Boag had hoped to return to familiar surrounds early in the new year following the completion of her second successive WNBL campaign – this time with Sydney Uni Flames after playing for Townsville Fire last season – but those plans have been put on hold for now because of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney’s north.
Returning to the familiar surrounds of Rockingham and to a team where she is valued and experienced success were just some of the factors behind Boag deciding to re-sign with the Flames for the inaugural NBL1 West competition season.
Her hunger for another championship, and to do so with some familiar faces, was another massive driving force.
“I love it there and talking to (Flames president) Warren (Boucaut) and hearing who we’re getting back from the championship team that we had, I couldn’t say no to coming back and trying to win another championship with that team; it was a fun team and I thoroughly enjoyed that championship season and hopefully we can do it again,” she said.
“It’s a shame Keegan is no longer coach, but I look forward to seeing what Tom Knowles brings. I’ve been in touch with him, sending messages about next season and he seems like a really good character. He’s an experienced coach and knows what he’s doing so I’m keen to see how it all clicks.”
The 29-year-old showed glimpses of the form familiar to Flames fans during the WNBL season, top scoring in the December 6 win over Bendigo Spirit, but was ultimately left frustrated by her lack of opportunities to impress because of the shortened format of the competition.
A starting berth in the next game – against Perth Lynx and three of her 2019 Flames championship teammates in Darcee Garbin, Alex Ciabattoni and Tayah Burrows – followed that performance, but her hopes of getting extra minutes never came to fruition, although she harbours no resentment for not seeing more court time.
“It was a little bit hard because it was such a short season and we weren’t able to have those training sessions to standout and earn more court time; from that perspective it was frustrating,” she said.
“But it was definitely a good team environment to be in a hub with. I’m 29 now, I’m not a kid hoping to make a name – I wanted time on court. I was rewarded with a start in the next game (after scoring 16 against the Spirit) but then I didn’t get many minutes. That was hard, to be honest, because it left me not knowing what to expect going forward.
“The situation was tough on the coach too, because there was the pressure of trying to win games in such a small amount of time, and for that reason I think we relied on our starters a lot.”
Whatever her role with the Sydney Uni Flames, Boag will be an important senior presence for the Rockingham Flames in 2021, just as she was during this year’s West Coast Classic.
Her strength and stature at the rim, as well as her ability to impact the scoreboard, were key to the Flames being top of the table when she left the team to join up with her WNBL club, so it was no coincidence the Flames’ fortunes changed once she departed to prepare with her new WNBL team.
“I didn’t think me leaving would make that much of a difference,” she said.
“It’s not like I was scoring 20 points per game or dominating or anything like that, so I didn’t expect them to lose by so much (to Warwick in the last game of the season and Joondalup in the semi-final). It was a bit surprising because the younger girls grew and improved so much through the season.”
Boag admitted that despite having to set an example as a senior player, her frustrations with the team’s inexperience got the better of her at times early in the season, however she quickly put those behind her and understood the situation would ultimately be beneficial to the younger players’ developments and the team’s cohesion in the future.
“I did find (the team’s inexperience) a little frustrating, just because the team was a lot younger and I struggled a little bit to hide it when mistakes were made,” she said.
“But it was fun to help those girls and kind of get more chemistry with them for next season. It was more about them than me and honestly I was just happy to be able to play at all given what was happening in the world.”
The NBL1 West season is set to tip-off in April.