Excitement continues to build for the Cockburn Cougars as preparations for their NBL1 West championship defence heats up with the signing of Israeli-New Zealand dual citizen import Daniel Raber to add some bite to their front court.
The majority of the 2023 championship winning team from the Cougars will be returning for the title defence in 2024, but to go back-to-back you have to improve, and there is no resting on the laurels from anyone at Cockburn looking at the season ahead.
The Cougars have already confirmed the return of Grand Final MVP Steph Gorman along with key championship players Jessie Edwards, Jewel Williams, Amelia Corasaniti and Kinley Paterson, in addition to the recruitment of Regan Turnour-McCarty from the Goldfields Giants and Alex Ciabattoni for the 2024 season.
Now the latest signing from the Cougars for the 2024 NBL1 West is the addition of 27-year-old forward Daniel Raber.
Raber is currently playing in Israel for Elitzur Ramla where she is producing 16.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.4 steals a game on the back of shooting 61 per cent from the field.
Those are some numbers that should get everyone excited about what she will be capable of this coming NBL1 West season at the Cougars, and coach Tyrone Thwaites is no different.
“Daniel comes as an athlete very much on an upward trajectory,” he said.
“She’s improving every year, and comes off a Eurocup year in 2023 where she well and truly showed her versatility to play three to five.
“She was a big part in keeping Emily Potter (now Perth Lynx) quiet in their series against Panathinaikos last year, and she followed up with a breakout international tournament at EuroBasket in June.
“She’s a hard-nosed defender who works hard at both ends. She will get rewarded offensively because of her work rate in this league, and she ticks all the boxes of our identity as a team.
“Her ability to get bigger bodies moving and having to keep up with her is exactly what we were looking for.
“We are excited for another great person to join the program and help us in our first ever defence of the championship.”
Raber has also been a regular with the Israeli national team on top of what she’s done at domestic level with her basketball, including playing for Israel during the 2023 EuroBasket competition.
While this season is going to be the first official time that Raber has played at state league level in Australia, only COVID ruining her quest to play a variety of 3×3 competitions several summers ago.
Since then, she has always wanted to return to Australia and when talking to Thwaites about the Cougars opportunity, it sounded like something too good to refuse.
“I wanted to come back to Australia since the last time I was there, and with Covid and me starting to play 3×3 during the summer it didn’t work out,” Raber said.
“This summer I decided to try again and after a talk with Ty I think this is the right place for me.”
Not only did Raber attempt to play some 3×3 basketball in Australia a couple of years back, she also did play in the Big V competition in Victoria at the McKinnon Cougars.
So while she is coming to a different side of the country, it’s not a totally new experience for her and anyone she’s asked has spoken highly of playing down under.
“I know some American players that played with me also in Israel,” she said.
“I really liked the idea of living in different places and see the different life styles of the people and the life there.”
Above everything else, what will make the whole experience of joining the Cougars better will be being part of a team fresh off winning a championship and attempting to back that up to defend the title.
“Yes for sure, I like to win more than anything so I really want to help the team achieve more goals,” Raber said.
“I’m looking to get better and see what I can learn from the coaching staff and to win. And the most important is to keep having fun from basketball.”
As for what type of player the Cougars fans can expect to see, Raber will be out there giving her all. That’s something she takes great pride in, but she’s also someone with a strong post game, is a tremendous rebounder and defender, and strong all-round player is what her reputation has been built on.
To have her sharing the front court with Jessie Edwards is going to become a strength for the Cougars but above everything else, her game is based on heart and effort.
“I will say I’m a smart and aggressive player, I will give my 100 per cent on the court every game,” she said.