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Cougars sign experienced forward Blazejewski

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With a high quality back and front court already locked in, the Cockburn Cougars have signed Maria Blazejewski to be that forward as the final piece of the puzzle for their NBL1 West championship defence in 2024.

Blazejewski is no stranger to the NBL1 West competition as well having played with the East Perth Eagles in 2022 where she finished sixth in MVP voting putting up 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists a game.

That’s just one part of what has been a glittering career all over the world for the recently turned 33-year-old who attended Lake Superior State University and over the last decade has racked up enormous experience.

Blazejewski is currently finishing her season in France with Chartres before coming to join the Cougars but since finishing her college career at the Lakers, she has had professional stints playing in Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Puerto Rico and Switzerland.

Already featuring a team with a backcourt of Perth Lynx WNBL pair Alex Ciabattoni and Steph Gorman along with Jewel Williams, and then a front court built around Jessie Edwards and Daniel Raber, and Blazejewski is that final piece of the puzzle for the Cougars.

She will fit in as that forward on a team not only with those key players, but also exciting young talented headed up by Amelia Corasaniti and Kinley Paterson, and there’s plenty of reasons why coach Tyrone Thwaites is so pleased with adding Blazejewski as that final piece.

“Maria has been in the pro game a very long time, so an opportunity to add someone who comes with strong experience and deep understanding of leadership is too hard to pass up for our young program,” Thwaites said.

“She has been played both out West and in the North conference before, so there’s an instant understanding of Australia and how the competition works.

“She is a competitor at heart, is ready to jump in during the season for what is a very exciting year for the program.”

Blazejewski always had an eye on returning to Australia after that last stint at the Eagles and having previously played at the Ipswich Force in the NBL1 North, and couldn’t be happier to be joining the defending champion Cougars.

“I am very excited to sign with the Cougars and return to the NBL1 West,” Blazejewski said.

“The club environment, team depth, and consistent building of success over the past couple years is what I am looking for. I also greatly appreciated the direct communication from Ty (Thwaites) as to the type of player and person they need.

“It is the right fit, and its super exciting to join a championship team. Obviously, the team, coaches and club already have a great thing going. I plan to do whatever is needed to add to that and help achieve back-to-back championships.”

Blazejewski already has fond memories of the Cougars from her previous stint in the NBL1 West playing at East Perth even if it was as an opposition player.

Now to be joining a team who is the defending champions and with current and former WNBL players like Ciabattoni, Gorman, Williams and Edwards, another gun import Raber, and plenty of exciting emerging talent, she can’t wait to get to the Cougar Den and start playing.

“My first game in the West was against the Cougars. I remember the excitement and support of the home crowd there. It was a great atmosphere,” she said.

“Getting to know the team and playing with really good players is what I am most looking forward to. A well balanced group with flexibility and a lot of weapons is so fun to play with”

Following Blazejewski’s season at East Perth back in 2022, she knew she always wanted to return down under and play in the NBL1 West again before long.

She didn’t exactly know where that would be, but she couldn’t be happier to be about to join the Cougars for their championship defence after having quite the eventful time over the past two years.

“I really enjoyed playing in Perth two years ago and had a feeling I would eventually return,” Blazejewski said.

“The beaches, weather, and tight knit community feel are some of my favourite things about it off the court. Can’t wait to see old friends and meet everyone who is part of the Cougar family.

“After playing for East Perth I eventually returned to Europe and joined Troistorrents in Switzerland.

“After we came up just short in the semi-finals I flew directly to Brisbane to play for the Ipswich Force in NBL1 North.

“The next stop was in the DBBL of Germany and I just joined Chartres Basket Feminin in France a few weeks ago. The timing of when I’m needed in Cockburn couldn’t be better, as we are hoping to make a finals run here.”

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