Bevilaqua Named To Australian National Team
For Bevilaqua, 34, it is her first selection to her country’s national team for a World Championship or Olympics competition, after years of disappointments. A native of small-town Merredin in Western Australia, she has raised her level of play through national and international pro competition, and has helped guide her teams to championships in both the WNBA (United States) and WNBL (Australia).
While traveling with the Fever during the final week of the WNBA’s regular season she said, “I guess that once I missed the Athens Olympics, I thought it might have been the last chance I had. It is pretty amazing, looking back to when I was a kid in Merredin, and here I am now in the WNBA, in New York eating a pre-game meal across the street from Madison Square Garden, and talking about representing my country. I just keep reminding myself of how lucky I am, and it’s not something to be taken for granted. I’m a part of a pretty small percentage of people with this kind of accomplishment.”
With her trademark smile she added, “Let’s just say I’ve been overlooked a few times. This has obviously been another goal of mine, though it’s happened a bit later in my career than I had expected. It’s all very exciting, I’m still a little overwhelmed by it.”
Overlooked has been a common occurrence during the career of the 5-7 point guard who rarely is a top scorer and often doesn’t even lead her team in assists. She is not flashy in any manner. But with tenacity, floor burns and defensive intensity as her most identifiable qualities, she has become one of the WNBA’s top defenders while winning at every level she has ever played. She was signed by the Fever, in fact, in January 2005 when she was not re-signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Seattle Storm, with whom she had been won the 2004 WNBA Championship.
With the Fever, the veteran point guard has become one of the team’s most popular players, alongside perennial All-Star and U.S. Olympian Tamika Catchings. While guiding the Fever to the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals, Catchings and Bevilaqua finished first and fourth in the WNBA in steals while both were named to the league’s All-Defense First Team. They also finished first and second in steals-to-turnover ratio with Bevilaqua the only player in the league with more steals than turnovers for the season. While leading Indiana to another playoff bid this season, the Fever duo leads the WNBA in steals per game with Catchings on a record pace (3.00) and Bevilaqua second (2.13).
Last season, the Catchings-Bevilaqua duo totaled 150 steals, the third-highest total by teammates in WNBA history. The tandem has already totaled 148 this season and is bidding to become the first teammates ever to finish first and second in the category. In the World Championship however, just days after the WNBA season concludes, Bevilaqua and Catchings will play on opposite sides – perhaps even for a gold medal. It was against Australia that Catchings and the United States won gold in Athens in 2004.
With four games left in its regular season, Indiana hosts Connecticut (Aug. 9) and Chicago (Aug. 13) in its final home dates. Individual tickets for all Fever home games – including 2006 WNBA Playoff tickets – can be purchased at the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Internet (Ticketmaster.com or ConsecoFieldhouse.com) or by phone at (877) WNBA-TIX. For season or group ticket information, call (317) 917-2500.