Excitement builds in Mandurah for first game in new building
THE Mandurah Magic finally get to play at home at the redeveloped Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Friday night and three of their stars Casey Mihovilovich, Carly Boag and Nici Gilday can't wait.
The Magic last played an official home game in the SBL back in the series-opener in their semi-final battle against the Rockingham Flames in the playoffs of 2015.
It has been an even longer wait for the Mandurah men who haven’t played on their home floor since beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in the final round of the 2015 season.
Since then the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre has been undergoing a $42-million upgrade that meant the Magic had to play their home games in Rockingham for all of 2016, and spend the opening three weeks of 2017 on the road.
However, the new facility is now nearing completion and the basketball courts are ready to host an SBL game this Friday night with the Magic welcoming the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
The new courts look tremendous in Mandurah with the seating in the grandstand side of the Showcourt offering the most comfort across the SBL while the retractable stand from the other side will be brought across to create what should be a tremendous atmosphere.
That will all be put to the test this Friday night as the Magic women look to continue their unbeaten start to the season against a winless Eastern Suns team.
It's a different story in the men's contest with both Mandurah and Kalamunda searching for a first win of 2017.
Mihovilovich has seen it all in her remarkable 400-game plus career and she is showing no signs of slowing down as one of the best players and point guards still in the SBL.
Even she is excited to get the chance to play in such a nice new facility for the club that means so much to her.
"I always knew I was going to keep playing this year because of the fact I wanted to play in this stadium. I haven’t played a home game for 18 months so this is something we've all been waiting for," Mihovilovich said.
"This is my 21st year playing for his club now and I've waited for this for so long that I was always going to make sure I was here to play in our first game.
"It is an amazing facility now. The gym is fantastic, the courts are amazing and the City of Mandurah have listened to all of our pleas to make this happen and they have really delivered.
"I'm really happy with it and we are so honoured. We feel so lucky to be able to play in a stadium like this and having all these facilities. The pool is now great, so is the gym and we are very lucky."
Gilday has made a tremendous start to her career in the SBL teaming with Mihovilovich to give the Magic a back court that the rest of the league is going to find hard to contain as 2017 rolls on.
She too is looking forward to her first opportunity to play in Mandurah and in front of the home fans.
"It will be a special night and the girls are super excited about having their home court," Gilday said.
"It's definitely something we are proud of and we will take pride in trying to remain undefeated on this home court for as long as we can."
Meanwhile, Boag is still coming off the high of winning the WNBL championship with the Sydney Uni Flames.
She didn’t realise exactly that it would be the first game this Friday in the new building but she is excited now about it.
"That's amazing it will be the first game and that will be really special to be part of after they had to play their home games 30 minutes away last year," Boag said.
"That's really special and I feel really lucky to be part of that now. Hopefully we play hard as well and get the win so we can attract some more fans to come in and fill up all these seats. It's a really nice facility.
"Especially when you have the swimming and gym facilities like we have here too, it's a really great place and compared with where you might have to share a gym with a high school or whatever. To have this available to us as part of the club is a real privilege."