Australian Opals and Southside Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea has suffered an untimely injury blow, with the veteran forward likely to be sidelined for the next few months ahead of a crucial stretch of international and domestic games.
As reported by foxsports.com.au on Tuesday morning, O’Hea fractured her scaphoid during a nasty collision with Melbourne Boomers star – and fellow Opal – Ezi Magbegor during the third quarter of the Flyers’ thrilling WNBL overtime win at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday night.
O’Hea is due to undergo wrist surgery on Wednesday. While her official sideline stint will be clearer post-operation, Opals doctor Greg Macleod expects O’Hea to be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks, with the intention of being eligible for selection by the 12-week mark.
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The injury rules O’Hea out of the Opals’ upcoming pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in France where Australia will play three games against the host nation, Brazil and Puerto Rico. She’ll be hoping the Opals finish third or higher in that four-team group to ensure she can prepare for another Olympics campaign in Tokyo.
“Not going to the Olympic Qualifying tournament is disappointing and of course missing the remainder of the season for Southside Flyers,” O’Hea said in a statement.
“But my Opals teammates know that I will be watching and cheering them on, we are focused on Tokyo but there are games to win in France as a first step.”
Opals coach Sandy Brondello added: “We will definitely miss her talent and leadership however, it offers all her Opal teammates a chance to step up and collectively absorb what her presence would normally deliver.”
O’Hea will be replaced in the Opals squad by fellow Flyer Sara Blicavs.
It also means O’Hea is set to miss the Flyers’ WNBL finals campaign – an enormous blow considering the top-of-the-ladder Southside relies so heavily on its starting five to score the majority of its points.
The fact O’Hea was able to play out the rest of Sunday’s game with a broken wrist and inspire the Flyers to a gritty 75-73 win over Melbourne makes her 19-point, six-rebound performance even more remarkable.
The 32-year-old has also been carrying a foot injury in recent months. An Opals medical official provided O’Hea with an injection after a WNBL game in Canberra just before Christmas.
Despite the injuries, O’Hea, an Olympic medallist, two-time WNBL champion and former WNBA player, had been in stellar form for the Flyers this season, averaging almost 14 points per game. She was also in the league’s top 10 players for three-point percentage, steals and assists.
O’Hea returned to Dandenong this season for a third stint to lead the rebranded Flyers.
O’Hea has also been influential off the court in the past year, winning the inaugural AIS Athlete Community Engagement award in December for her work in raising awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.