Lauren Mansfield is set to miss Saturday night’s home clash with Melbourne Tigers, but under an injury cloud the Launceston skipper’s spirits have been given a lift by her latest national call-up.
The 28-year-old has been included in the Australian Opals’ 12-member squad for a World Cup preparatory four-nation tournament.
Mansfield will concentrate on recovering fully from a persistent ankle injury ahead of matches against Serbia, Argentina and host China from July 11-22.
The point guard debuted at the 2017 Asia Cup, but was ruled out for the Commonwealth Games by club commitments in Poland.
Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington will be without Mansfield for at least the final two regular-season fixtures including the Hobart road trip, but should be available for the first week of the finals.
The American had no qualms with her putting country first before club.
“I am definitely proud of it [the recall] as a coach just to have a player in our team to have that opportunity to play for the Opals and represent the country,” he said.
“She’s an amazing player as we all know – I’d love to have her play myself.
“But at the end of the day, I am always about my players pursuing their careers, their goals and their dreams.”
Washington said it would be a tough call to leave out Mansfield for another week.
The veteran has already been sidelined for three games, but Launceston still won two of them without her invaluable court presence.
“Ankle injuries, you just never know – it depends on the player,” Washington said.
The Tornadoes initially suspected Mansfield would recover within a week from the sprained ankle sustained against Sydney Uni Flames now 26 days ago.
But complicated bone bruising has set back a return further than anticipated.
“We’re still taking it week by week,” Washington said.
“We’ll see how she feels this weekend, but we have other players who can step up and take the opportunity.”
Washington anointed Aishah Anis to fill Mansfield’s void after the 16-year-old shot games of 14, eight and 10 points in her idol’s absence.
“Everybody’s holding up pretty well,” he said.
“We have had people that have taken minutes that haven’t been playing before.
“They are stepping up and taking the challenge on.”
Launceston sits just one spot above seventh-placed Melbourne Tigers.
Plans are to shut down Rebecca Cole, whose 25.4 point average leads the SEABL.
Washington will do so by matching this year’s next-best Lauren Nicholson (24.5 ppg) in a head-to-head clash.
“She’s going to be a tough player to stop,” he said.