Sykes shines brightest to take WNBL Player of the Week

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Exciting American import April Sykes, of the Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames, has been named Fans’ Player of the Week for Round Six of the 2012/13 WNBL season after the 22-year-old produced a match-winning performance to guide the Flames to their first win of the season – a 94-78 victory over finals-bound Adelaide Lightning.

Despite only having played four games for the Flames in the WNBL, the 2012 third round (28th overall) WNBA draft pick for the Los Angeles Sparks was unstoppable for the Flames on Saturday night at the Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre, knocking down 5-of-7 three pointers as part of a 26-point haul to go with her 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Sykes leads her teams scoring (18 points per game – ranked fifth in WNBL) and three-point percentage (47.6% – ranked second in WNBL) for the season.

“This award is great recognition for April after an excellent game last week,” said Flames Head Coach Karen Dalton.

“She has really slotted into the team seamlessly. April has bought great scoring power to the team, as well as being a real force on the boards.”

Sykes held off fellow WNBL Round Six nominees Jenna O’Hea (Dandenong Rangers), Suzy Batkovic (Adelaide Lightning), Kathleen MacLeod (Dandenong Rangers) and team mate Katie-Rae Ebzery (Sydney Uni Flames) to be awarded with the WNBL Fan’s Player of the Week. caught up with April Sykes to talk all things Flames.

WNBL: The win over Adelaide was long overdue. How important was it for the team to break through and get back that winning feeling?

AS: It’s pretty exciting for the team to get that first win because we’ve been so close a couple of times now, but we’re not getting carried away.

WNBL: You had 26 points and where shooting lights out from three-point land. Do you feel you’re beginning to settle into the team structure and making an impact?

AS: It’s all about knowing my teammates, trusting and helping each other. As I’ve got to know them better there’s a lot of trust in the team. For us it started on the defensive end and we did a great job rebounding and the offense came from there.

WNBL: What are the differences you’ve noticed between playing in the WNBA and here in the WNBL?

AS: There’s more pace in the WNBA game – a more get out and run style – where the WNBL is more structured, especially on offense.

The biggest challenge is getting to know your opponents. In the WNBA I was familiar with a lot of the players either playing against them in the WNBA or in college, where here I’m getting to know players every week, which is always a challenge. 

WNBL: The move to play in Australia is a big one for any foreign player. What made you think that the WNBL and Sydney was the right place for you?

AS: I spoke to Jenna O’Hea when we were together in Los Angeles and she told me that it was a good league and one of the best outside the WNBL and I would enjoy Australia. I’m really enjoying it here so far.

WNBL: On Friday night the Flames host league-leading Bendigo Spirit, looking to claim back-to-back wins for the first time this season. How important is it for the team to back-up the performance against Adelaide with a good showing?

AS: It’s extremely important for us. We may be 1-6 but we can send a message to the other teams that the game against Adelaide wasn’t a fluke and we can perform like that again.