Posted on wbbl

Team Northumbria women’s basketball have gone back to the future in their bid to take down the WBBL’s big guns this season.

A double swoop for Diana Voynova and Ta’Yani Clark is a massive fillip for Sport Central fans with the new campaign just three weeks away.

Both players left the club in the summer of 2014 but two best friends off the court are determined to make up for lost time on it.

“When I was talking to coach Chris Bunten about coming back to Team Northumbria I knew Ta’Yani was in the frame for a return,” said the powerful Bulgarian.

“In a way it was a deal maker for me. I said if you can sign Ta’Yani then I’ll be back like a shot!

“We are best friends but in the two seasons we were at Northumbria University together, we never realised our full potential on court.

“I was injured for the first season and Ta’Yani was plagued with injury problems once I got fit.

“We feel we have some unfinished business and it’s great to be back on Tyneside working with Coach Bunten at last.”

Voynova may have to bide her time in making a long-awaited TN return as she awaits an exploratory operation on an injured knee.

Surgery could take place as early as next week and she explained, “It’s a four week recovery period so I should be back by the end of October.

“It’s not a serious injury. I just need my knee looked at and some fluid cleared out.

“When I do make my WBBL debut I want to be at my best and not carrying an injury.”

Voynova spent a season playing in Europe last season – joining Banca Stabiese Stabia in Italy’s Basket A2.

However, she was keen to work with Bunten and excited to join a slew of top quality signings on Tyneside this summer.

Voynova was appointed to the Northumbria University Sport staff, in a marketing, communications and events role, earlier this month and the Duquesne international business graduate added, “I’m in the perfect position.

“I want to start planning for the long term and a career beyond basketball, but I wanted to continue playing.

“This situation is the best of both worlds. I’m very excited about my new job and can’t wait to see what Team Northumbria can achieve on the court this season.”

With a fully fit Voynova and Clark, there is little doubt TN boast one of the strongest rosters in the WBBL.

Coach Bunten is determined to build on a breakout season that saw TN emerge as shock contenders for the inaugural WBBL crown.

Retaining key players including Fiona O’Dwyer, Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee, Sarah Thomson and Rachel Bland and adding a number of exciting new signings, the play-caller sees Voynova and Clark as the missing pieces in his title-challenging jigsaw.

“It’s been a busy summer but now that the majority of the squad is here things are looking very positive,” said Bunten.

“If the players work hard off the court to get fit and integrated into the programme then we will pose a serious threat on the court this season.”