Flames forward Afeaki to miss rest of season

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The Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames have been rocked by the news that versatile forward Eva Afeaki will miss the remainder of the 2011/2012 WNBL season after injuring her knee in the clash with Bulleen last Friday.

Afeaki ruptured her patella tendon in the first five seconds of the game against the Boomers and is set to have surgery in the next week, ruling her out of the rest of the current season.

The 195-game WNBL veteran and Parramatta junior has been a mainstay of the Flames outfit in the last eight seasons after graduating from the Australian Institute of Sport.

The versatile forward has been starting at centre for the Flames this season alongside Amy Denson and the pair has played a key role in providing the perfect foil for the perimeter scoring of Belinda Snell and skipper Alicia Poto.

Afeaki was assessed by Flames medical staff on return from Melbourne and the rupture of the patella tendon was confirmed after an MRI scan on Sunday.

Flames coach Karen Dalton said the team would feel the loss of the popular forward as they look to return to the WNBL play-offs.

“Eva is an integral part of our team and was been one of the mainstays of the club since returning from the AIS in 2003,” Dalton said.

“Her ability to play both front-line positions and on the perimeter, as well as her ability to defend much taller opponents has been crucial in our 8-3 start and obviously she will be a big loss for the group.

“The girls are obviously disappointed and we all feel for Eva, but unfortunately injuries are part and parcel of elite sport and we will re-group and look forward.

“We have dealt with injuries in the past and the group is very determined to build on our solid start to the season,” she added.

The Flames are preparing for the crucial road trip to the nation’s capital on Saturday, where they will clash with traditional rivals Canberra in a live, nationally televised game at The AIS Arena at 1pm.

The team will end 2011 with another important game against Townsville at home on Saturday, December 17.