PENNY TAYLOR RETURNS HOME TO DANDENONG FOR 25 YEAR CELEBRATION

PENNY TAYLOR RETURNS HOME TO DANDENONG FOR 25 YEAR CELEBRATION

Recently retired WNBL and Australian Opal legend, Penny Taylor, has returned to the place she considers home as the Jayco Dandenong Rangers celebrate 25 years in the WNBL this weekend.

Every past Dandenong player, coach and sponsor has been invited to a function which will follow Dandenong's cross-town clash with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers which Taylor will be a part of but her return to her old club gave Taylor the chance to reflect on one of the most influential careers in Australian basketball.

“I started with Dandenong when I was 17, many, years ago,” she said.

“It’s always fun to be home and this feels like home to me. “In sport in general, [25 years] is an amazing achievement. Across the world, you don’t see many programs that have that longevity.

"I feel like Dandenong has taken the WNBL and women’s basketball to that next level of professionalism [in] developing players and junior programs.

“I’m so happy that I got to be a part of it and the culture they have created; I feel lucky to be a part of that.”

Following the 2016 Rio Olympics and the completion of the WNBA playoffs late last year, Taylor called time on her 18-year career which spanned stints in the WNBL, WNBA, Europe as well as 14 years as a member of the Opals.

“When I made up my mind that this was going to be my last year, that was the moment that I accepted it and embraced it.

“It wasn’t a sudden stop; it was a gradual realisation that that was the way I wanted to do it.

“It was always about finishing at a high level, still playing the way I wanted to play and I felt like I could do that this year.”

Taylor certainly starred right up until her last game, averaging 13.2 points in the Olympics (second best for Australia) with 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists (second best for the tournament).

In the WNBA playoffs, she averaged 11.2 points for the Phoenix Mercury and in her penultimate performance, recorded 16 points, three boards, five assists, two steals and three blocks in a typical all-round game.

Unfortunately, the Mercury were swept in their Semi-Final series against Minnesota, denying Taylor a fairytale finish while the Opals were also prematurely knocked out of the Olympics in a Quarter-Final defeat at the hands of Serbia.

“There were disappointments on the way,” said Taylor.

“You always want to go out on a win but you don’t always get to make that decision.”

Last playing for Dandenong in the WNBL in 2015, Taylor has kept an eye on the scores each week while paying special attention to the fortunes of the Rangers who currently sit on top of the ladder.

“We’re always checking up and looking at the scores. It’s been great to see this year how well [Dandenong] are doing.”

However, the back-to-back WNBL MVP in 2001-02 stopped short any rumours that she may suit up one final time for the club.

“I still have the same knees. I love the sport, I’m passionate about it and I want to stay in it.

“It’s always evolving so I know I will always be intrigued by it but my playing days are done, that’s for sure.

“I look forward to seeing the game tomorrow and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this occasion.”

More information on the Dandenong Rangers 25-year celebrations and tickets for the event can be found here.

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