The NBL1 West championship defence of the Cockburn Cougars has received another significant boost with the signing of championship winning guard and current Perth Lynx WNBL star Alex Ciabattoni.
It was only just over 12 months ago when Ciabattoni gave birth to her first child, son Elijah, but just months later and not only was she coaching the South West Slammers but also made her return to the court to play some minutes during the 2023 NBL1 West season.
Her remarkable comeback has continued with her signing to return to the Perth Lynx in the WNBL. She is currently playing a key role as the starting point guard for a team attempting to break back into the finals in the last run of the regular season.
On the back being a championship winner in the league previously at the Rockingham Flames, what she has done, and continues to do, in the WNBL at the Lynx, and now also with her coaching pedigree, Ciabattoni is a significant signing for the Cougars for the 2024 NBL1 West season.
Ciabattoni joins her Lynx teammate, and reigning Best Defensive Player and Grand Final MVP, Steph Gorman in the back court for the Cougars for the 2024 season alongside Jewel Williams and young guns Amelia Corasaniti, Kinley Paterson and Jaya Scafidi.
She joins fellow new signing Regan Turnour-McCarty to the Cougars team for their championship defence in 2024 as well, in what is a frightening amount of back court depth for teams in the West to deal with.
Reigning NBL1 West Coach of the Year, and championship winner Tyrone Thwaites is understandably excited to be able to add Ciabattoni to his team for 2024.
“Chibba is a huge plus for us as a program. It’s veteran and professional experience, and just another level head for our developing group. She’s already got relationships with a lot of our group, and her versatility is a big win for our long line up,” Thwaites said.
“We know the value of leadership for young teams, and we are definitely still that. She also knows what it takes to be a great team, and that mindset will be important as we head into some unknown territory following a championship
“She has had great insight as a coach these past 12 months, so when you combine that with her versatility on the floor, there’s so much upside for our program because of that.
“She’s coming off the back of a really solid Lynx season and we look forward to welcoming her with young Eli and partner James at the end of her season.”
When Ciabattoni initially fell pregnant to Elijah she was on the back of a strong WNBL season at the Lynx as part of a team that reached the grand final in 2022, but she wasn’t sure what it meant for her playing future.
Having given birth in January last year, an immediate playing return wasn’t on the cards. She was appointed coach of the Slammers, but as time progressed, she started feeling good enough to return to the court.
She played some minutes with the Slammers, is now playing a significant role with the Lynx and will hit the ground running with the Cougars.
Ciabattoni is now excited to be joining the Cougars and to be a part of the championship defence.
“After coaching last season I’m excited to return to NBL1 with the Cockburn Cougars,” she said.
“It’s a great program to be part of especially coming off a championship last season.
“The team they have built is exciting and the club has such a great culture signing there really was an easy decision.”
Ciabattoni is thankful firstly to her Lynx teammates for helping her return go so well as she prepares for a strong finish to the WNBL season before turning her attention to the Cougars.
“I really wasn’t sure when I got pregnant and I thought I was done. To come back now it’s definitely a challenge but I’m enjoying it and am putting a lot less pressure on myself which is helping at the moment,” Ciabattoni said.
“But it’s just the mental adjustment and the first few games I just struggled to find my rhythm back even though we played well as a team. I was just in a heap but our team has just been so helpful and I’m not sure they even realise that.
“They’ve lifted me and helped me play through all that, and to now finally start finding some form again it’s just refreshing and it’s making it all feel worth it.
“There’s been a lot of long nights and really long days so to come out and actually feel like I’m contributing to the game is just huge for me right now.”