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Eboni on Team Girls Cup

Queensland Firebirds will take plenty out of the Suncorp Teams Girls Cup pre-season tournament, according to star international recruit Eboni Usoro-Brown.

The Firebirds finished the weekend strongly, claiming consecutive wins headlined by a two-goal victory over Collingwood in Sunday’s playoff at Melbourne’s Parkville Stadium.

“We came into Team Girls Cup, and obviously I only arrived in February, having not built too many connections. So, this was exploring those combinations and building some confidence,” Usoro-Brown said.

“I think we really built across the weekend and to finish with a win shows just how far we have come but also how we’ve got to go before the first round.

“What we set out to achieve in building combinations, building some confidence and sticking to our game plans and focussing on ourselves before we hit round one – I think we ticked quite a lot of boxes so the coaching staff, playing group and support staff would be pleased.”

The key defender is no stranger to the Australian domestic competition, having previously played in the ANZ Championship with Adelaide Thunderbirds and West Coast Fever.

Usoro-Brown said a number of the goalers she lined up on at Team Girls Cup are ones she’s played against on the International stage.

However, she acknowledged there was a lot to take in and adjust to over the weekend.

“I’ve come back on these shores and this time I have a one-year-old (daughter Savannah), I am definitely a different athlete, but it has been wonderful,” the England international said.

“It’s a lot of firsts for me this weekend – it’s been the two-point shot, putting the purple dress on and getting to know some of the shooters of the competition.

“And also getting used to the umpires and the pace and intensity of the game, but I’ve settled in well.

“I had a lot of fun out there today, but I have a lot of work to do I need to sharpen up my footwork and get some more video analysis to see what I am doing. It’s a step in the right direction.”

One goaler that attracted plenty of attention during the pre-season tournament was Donnell Wallam who impressed for the Firebirds.

Usoro-Brown said she was not surprised having played against Wallam over in England last year, and loved watching her perform from the other end of the court – as teammates.

“Oh hasn’t she been exceptional? She’s absolutely lethal under the post,” Usoro-Brown said.

“She was so nervous going onto the court, but she absolutely killed it so kudos to her she’s been working so hard in the gym and it’s really great to see her perform really well.

“Her combination with Gretel (Bueta) is really coming along.”

Usoro-Brown said she’s been grateful for the way the Firebirds have embraced newcomers like Wallam and herself into the environment, making life a lot easier.

The Firebirds defender also paid homage to the fans cheering in Melbourne and back home in Queensland across the weekend. Especially when the South East was doing it tough under the deluge of rain and floods.

“The whole franchise and everyone have shown me a warm welcome,” Usoro-Brown said.

“The Queenslanders have been absolutely awesome through social media and across the board and our fans have really opened their arms to me.

“So, I am glad we could put in a great performance this weekend and hopefully take it forward to the season ahead.”

Firebirds vice-captain Lara Dunkley was rested throughout Team Girls Cup as a precaution due to a sore foot, which the club and the wing attack did not want to risk ahead of the season.

Image : Firebirds

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