By Graham Croker 

Dual Olympian Suzy Batkovic-Brown is a shock late inclusion on the ACUVUE Sydney Uni Flames roster for the 2009-10 Women’s National Basketball League season.

Batkovic-Brown, a team-mate of Lauren Jackson at the Seattle Storm, is keen to return home after a lengthy spell in the WNBA in the US and Euroleague.

And Flames coach Karen Dalton and Operations Manager Trish Fallon couldn’t be happier.

“A player who’s played at the level Suzy has for that long is always going to be a phenomenal asset to any team, not only on match day but also at training and in the change room,” coach Dalton said. “It’s a senior role that Suzy is really looking forward too.”

Fallon said the 193cm centre will round out the Flames’ roster for 2009-10. “We had already signed Mikaela Dombkins from Logan, former Opal Natalie Porter, Ellie Manou from the AIS and Oregon State, Deanne Butler from the Bendio Spirit and Opal Deanna Smith from Perth Lynx before Suzy indicated she wanted to return home for a season,” she said.

“The Flames have lacked height in recent seasons, so Suzy and Ellie, who’s 190cm, will provide us with that.

“It’s going to be a tough competition this year, with Adelaide, Canberra and Bulleen all looking very strong again.”

Since being picked up in the 2003 WNBA draft, Batkovic-Brown has spent a lot of time overseas and is looking forward to being closer with her family and friends in Newcastle.

“I’d always wanted to play overseas and, of course, I absolutely loved it over there, but I’m really looking forward to coming home,” she said. “I’ll enjoy being back home but my focus will be totally on the Flames. With the girls we’ve got this season and the feeling at training, we’re definitely going to be up there.”

Named International Player of the Year in 2002 by Basketball Australia, Batkovic-Brown has silver medals from the Athens and Beijing Olympics, and hopes to round out her career with gold at the 2112 London Games.