Nat Hurst isn’t sure how long she’s got left in a Canberra Capitals uniform, so she is soaking up every moment before the curtain is drawn.
Hurst was crowned the club’s most valuable player and the fan favourite on Thursday to cap off her return to the Capitals in stellar fashion.
The 34-year-old point guard is in the final stages of signing a short-term deal to play in Poland, after which she will step back and reassess her playing future.
It means she will be enjoying every second of Canberra’s clash with the league-leading Perth Lynx at the National Convention Centre on Friday night as she weighs up a return next season.
Hurst is the only player to have played in all seven of Canberra’s WNBL championship wins but the prospect of adding a major individual award to the mantelpiece left her speechless.
“It’s really humbling for the girls to name me MVP of the season,” Hurst said.
“I think everyone did their job this season. We didn’t get the results we wanted but we can hold our heads high and know that we did the right thing throughout the season.
“For them to name me MVP, it’s just a huge honour.”
Emerging star Eziyoda Magbegor was named Capital on the rise, American import Jordan Hooper clinched the players player award, while Chevannah Paalvast won the Kellie Abram defensive player of the year trophy.
But it was Hurst with the most impressive haul, however a middle ear infection threatens to rule her out of Canberra’s final game of the season.
An Australian Opals berth at the Commonwealth Games is on Hurst’s radar but she admits there will be a hint of sadness when Canberra’s season draws to a close.
“I’m still not feeling the greatest, but I’ll be there in whatever capacity. I just want to enjoy [Friday] night,” Hurst said.
“If that means me on the court it means me on the court, if not I will sit back and cheer for my teammates.
“We’re not happy the season is over the way it ended but like we always say, we’ve got a great group and we just want to celebrate what we have been able to do during this season, celebrate each other and the personalities we have.
“As much as we don’t want it to come to an end, being able to then just relax for a couple of days with each other and just chill, I think we’ve earned that.”
While Hurst was left stunned by her recognition, Capitals coach Paul Goriss wasn’t the least bit surprised – he says she was “the front runner all along”.
Hurst leads the league in assists per game with 6.72 and Goriss says her ability to make her teammates better players is what makes her so special.
“There’s been a lot made of her being a seven-time championship winner and I personally feel for her that we weren’t able to get back to the good old days that she first had when she was with the club,” Goriss said.
“She’s certainly said that things have changed here for the better and will continue to improve. We haven’t welcomed her back in the best way possible with our record but she’s had a huge impact both on and off the court in getting the Capitals back to where we want to be.
“She underestimates and undervalues her contribution to the team. I know she was taken aback by winning the award but in all honesty she was probably the front runner all along to win it throughout this season.”
Friday: Round 13 – Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx at National Convention Centre, 7.30pm.
CAPITALS AWARD WINNERS
Most Valuable Player – Nat Hurst
Players Player: Jordan Hooper
Fan favourite: Nat Hurst
Capital on the rise: Eziyoda Magbegor
Kellie Abram defensive player of the year: Chevannah Paalvast
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