Former Nebraska women’s basketball All-American Kelsey Griffin captured tournament MVP honors in her first appearance with the Australian National Team at the 2017 Asia Cup in Bangalore, India.
Griffin, a 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, captured the MVP award after erupting for 30 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in Saturday’s championship game against Japan. Despite Griffin’s performance, Japan claimed its second straight Asia Cup with a 74-73 win over Australia. The Opals settled for silver after suffering their first loss in the tournament, but they did secure a spot at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain with their top-four finish in India.
In six tournament games, Griffin averaged 17.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals and a 1.0 block per game, capping an incredible first tournament as a member of the Opals. She was one of five players across all teams to be named to the tournament’s All-Star Five, while adding the MVP award. Her performance against Japan was simply spectacular, hitting 11-of-19 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 three-pointers. She also knocked down 6-of-8 free throws while playing 32:18.
While Griffin hit 2-of-3 threes, her Australian teammates managed to go just 2-for-16 from three-point range on Saturday against Japan. In the first meeting between the two teams in pool play on Thursday, Australia connected on 12-of-20 threes as a team to defeat Japan, 83-74. Japan, which went just 6-for-22 from long range in the first meeting, connected on 11-of-25 three-point attempts on its way to gold.
Griffin’s production and efficiency throughout the tournament was astounding, producing her 17.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game. For the tournament she hit 62.7 percent of her shots from the field, including 60 percent (6-10) of her three-pointers. She also connected on 71.4 percent of her free throws.
Griffin spent five seasons (2010-14) with the Connecticut Sun after being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft. She was a member of the 2010 WNBA All-Rookie Team. While playing in the WNBA, Griffin also played overseas in Hungary and Israel before signing with the Bendigo Spirit in Australia’s WNBL in 2012-13. Since her arrival in Bendigo, Griffin has earned a pair of WNBL Championship Series MVP awards (2013, 2014) and was named to the WNBL All-Star Five in 2015. She was also the 2015 WNBL Defensive Player of the Year. She played her first three seasons with the Spirit alongside former Husker teammate Chelsea Aubry, who was the captain of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team. Griffin, who earned her permanent Australian citizenship in 2015, will be entering her sixth season with the Bendigo Spirit in 2017-18.