Eagles set to soar for Chinese Taipei tour

Five months on from being crowned national champions, La Trobe University’s Women’s Basketball team is preparing itself for its next frontier – this time on the international stage.

After winning the inaugural Women’s University Basketball League (UBL) championship back in May, the Eagles will head to Chinese Taipei from 29 November to 8 December to play three games against Chinese Taipei-based universities.

The team has been busy in its preparations ahead of its debut international tour, in which La Trobe University will join the University of Sydney’s Men’s team as the two Australian teams representing UniSport Australia in the tournament.

In a boost for La Trobe’s prospects for the tour, the majority of the squad which remained unbeaten throughout 12 matches in the UBL competition earlier in the year will make the trip to Chinese Taipei.

Speaking ahead of the trip, La Trobe University star Meg Stagoll (Bachelor of Applied Science and Masters of Occupational Therapy) described the prospect of heading to compete overseas as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

“It’s amazing – to be one of only two universities in Australia getting to go is amazing,” Stagoll said.

“We’ve tried to do the Google search and find out more about who we are playing against, and from what we can see they (the Chinese Taipei teams) will be very, very fast and they are very into their basketball.

“It (basketball) is a massive thing over there and they take it very seriously, so from that we know that we are going to have to work hard and play our transition game.”

Despite the expected challenges, Stagoll said the team was confident they could recapture the form that saw them dominate the UBL and become national champions earlier this year.

“The main thing for us is to get back to our brand of basketball; we had such an amazing year by winning 12 in a row and winning the Grand Final, so I think getting back to that (type of) basketball and finishing off the year strong is very important for us all,” she said.

“For a lot of these girls it is their last year at La Trobe, so to get back to the way that we played earlier in the year would be fantastic.”

After leading his team through an unblemished UBL campaign, La Trobe University Women’s team Head Coach Cameron Wilkosz said the team had been working around the players’ regular club preseason commitments to fit in weekly training sessions to prepare for the tour.

“We’ve been trying to get together once a week for the last three or four weeks, and this week and until we go we’ll be going twice a week,” Wilkosz said.

“We’ve decided we’re not going to fly to the other side of the world to get our butts kicked, so we’ve been putting in as much work as we can to make sure we’re good.”

Given the expected turnover within the Eagles’ Women’s UBL roster next year, Wilkosz added that the magnitude of the trip was not lost on him and his players, who recognise the opportunity ahead of them to stamp La Trobe’s credentials as a world-leading basketball institution.

“I think it’s a pretty incredible opportunity for us moving forward as La Trobe Sport; we won a lot of games in the UBL and now we get to see the world on top of that, so it is a pretty good recruitment tool for years moving forward,” he said.

“There is probably seven or eight (of the team) graduating this year, so we’re looking into recruiting already.

“It’s a pretty nice feather in the cap to say, ‘if you come and play for us, there’s all these opportunities', so La Trobe has done a fantastic job in putting us up and giving us this opportunity.”

The team will arrive in Chinese Taipei on 29 November before spending three days training and acclimatising to local conditions before taking to the court for their first game against Chinese Culture University on 3 December. La Trobe will then play two further games against National Taiwan Normal University on 5 December and Shih-Hsin University on 6 December.

Stay tuned to La Trobe Sport’s Facebook and Instagram channels for all the news and results from our Women’s Basketball team’s Chinese Taipei tour.