From Western Magazine, New South Wales:
Twins Bernadette and Eliza-Jane Mills have been named in the Australian Pearls team to contest the World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Basketball Championships in Turkey in October.
The twins, 21, are relative veterans of the team, having played in countless international tournaments.
The Pearls – Australia’s national women’s basketball team for players with an intellectual disability – will head to Turkey ranked number one in the world as a result of gold medals at the 2011 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Global Games and the 2010 World Championships.
Long-serving head coach Larry Davidson has put together a talented side combining international experience and exciting young talent, and will look to the Mills twins to lead by example.
“Both Eliza and Bernie came into the side when they were around 15 or 16,” he said.
“They’re both very experienced and I will look to them to lead.
“Along with the other experienced players, I’d hope they’ll use that experience to guide our younger players around.”
Davidson’s request was justified, the twins believe, conceding the squad’s younger players would be anxious and in need of some guidance.
“They’ll be nervous,” Bernadette said.
“When I first went there I was overwhelmed.
“It’s a different level.”
“We’ll definitely look to help them,” Eliza added.
Davidson also heaped praise on the twins individually, highlighting their dedication as a main factor in their success.
“They’re both very athletic, determined young women,” he said.
“They’re rarely put off by anything, and both really get in and have a go.”
Davidson is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing his team, acknowledging their prospective opponents will be tougher than in previous competitions.
“The problem with playing the European nations is whether they have the money to send teams,” he said
“With the way the economic situation has been recently, when funds were low it has tended to be the women’s teams that get cut.
“But at the moment, it looks like most, if not all, involved nations will send teams.
“This means we’ll have a much tougher task ahead of us than perhaps we have in previous tournaments.
“And with that number one ranking all those teams will be out gunning for us.”
The twins agreed, pinpointing Russia and Japan as the Pearls’ main competition for a second consecutive title.
“Russia will be tough, if they come,” Eliza said.
“Japan too, they’re just little and fast,” Bernadette added.
While not getting ahead of herself Eliza conceded another gold medal is the ultimate goal.
“We’ve got to keep the record going,” she laughed.
“It’ll be tough,” Bernie added.
“But we never get sick of playing for Australia.”