Kristine Anigwe returns for a second camp with GB this weekend following a successful summer in the WNBA’s bubble – known as the wubble – with LA Sparks.
The WNBA was the first professional league to restart in a bubble environment – beginning on July 24th, almost a week before the NBA’s bubble – and the experience was one which, for Anigwe, focussed around togetherness and friendship:
“I think it was an interesting experience playing in the bubble. I was able to hang out with my friends from different teams and also I had the support of my teammates. I think it was a really cool experience and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve become a better player during my time in the bubble.”
That support network within the group of players staying in Florida proved vital for almost all the players competing during the season. The competition lasted for months, with players subject to regular testing and a long time away from home.
“Being stuck in one place for four months was kind of overwhelming. Not being able to see my family or my friends from outside of the bubble and eating the same things, seeing the same people, can take a toll on you.
I’m friends with a lot of players from other teams so having them just a room away or five minutes away to talk about relatable issues or games and that was super beneficial for me. It was a really cool experience and I’m glad I went through that.”
The Sparks team Anigwe played with during the season was stacked with talent. The 12-player roster included two former WNBA MVPs – Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike – as well as multiple former champions. Being surrounded by such great players allowed Anigwe to learn a lot in what was just her second season in the league:
“Being on a new team with LA, I was able to learn a lot from the great veterans on that team. I think it was amazing. From having a strong mindset, staying confident even if things don’t go your way, being optimistic and even staying patient – there was a lot of things I learnt.
I learnt a lot from Nneka, Candice, Tierra [Ruffin-Pratt], there’s a lot. Even Riquna [Williams], I learnt a lot from her as well. A lot of them reached out to me and helped me in one way or another so that was a cool opportunity.”
In particular, the 23-year-old discussed her closest relationships with Chelsea Gray and Candice Parker – two USA internationals with over 500 WNBA appearances between them:
“I was around Chelsea and Candice a lot. We would watch a film or eat dinner the most, but all of my teammates taught me a lot. They still check up on me and I still talk to them a lot. I was able to form really, really strong connections with a lot of my teammates.”
A strong team chemistry and relationships within the squad have been a key part of GB Women’s success over the last few years. With experience of balancing WBNA and European seasons, Kristine has felt her relationship with Temi Fagbenle go from strength to strength since February’s tournament in Belgrade:
“I talk to her a lot. We’re both Nigerian, Nigerian heritage, so we have a lot in common. It’s really nice talking to her, really nice learning from her and I’m excited to play with her again. She’s been a great help.”
An ankle injury picked up just days before arriving in Serbia meant Kristine’s minutes during GB’s Olympic Qualifiers were limited. This time around things will be different, with the center eager to wear the GB jersey again:
“I’m excited to get back. Earlier this year I didn’t get to play because of my ankle but now I’m healthy, I’m excited and we’re all looking forward to playing Poland. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and getting back on the court. I want to have fun, be optimistic and get the win – I haven’t won with this group yet. I’m really excited to be able to play again.”
Despite having a busy schedule throughout the summer months, Kristine has hit the ground running during her second season in Turkey. The Brit recorded 22 points and 18 rebounds during her last outing with ÇBK Mersin Yenişehir Belediyesi, red-hot form just in time for next weekend’s game.