Mangakahia ready to prove herself in Phoenix

Orange Nation

Tiana Mangakahia is more than just a success story of someone who beat cancer. 

Tiana can ball. 

The Australian proved that during her entire Syracuse-career; leading the nation in assists twice. That’s why it comes as a bit of shock for SU fans that Mangakahia went undrafted in Thursday night’s WNBA draft. 

Despite the initial disappointment, there was no time to sulk. 

“After the draft, there was no time to dwell on not being drafted. I had a lot of options,” Tiana said in a Zoom press-conference Friday. “I’m just glad a team offered me a training camp contract and I get to go to Phoenix on Sunday.” 

In a flurry of phone conversations with her agent and coach Quentin Hillsman, Mangakahia went from team-less to two offers for training camp deals. The choice between Minnesota and Phoenix. After breaking down the rosters with Coach Q, Tiana called her agent to finalize a deal with the Mercury. 

It just so happens that she will have a familiar face when she heads out west. Sandy Brondello, whose been with the team since 2014, is also the coach of the Australian national team. 

“No matter what happens, she will support me. I do not know anyone in Minnesota. And Phoenix sounds nicer too,” Mangakahia said. 

Even if drafted making a WNBA roster is not easy. Tiana told the media Friday, if she is unable to make Phoenix, she already has something lined up home in Australia.  

To shore up a roster spot, Tiana feels there is one part of her game that needs to improve.  

“I don’t score enough. That’s the main thing,” Mangakahia said. “All of these players score so many points and I only averaged 11 points this year.  

“For me, I’m the type of point guard that doesn’t score much and I never have. I’m a pass-first point guard. Maybe my jump shot needs to be a little bit better,” Tiana added. 

Pro ball is not the only thing potentially on tap for Tiana. The Aussie has her eyes set on the 2021 Olympic games. With coach Sandy Brondello pulling double-duty between the Australia national team and the Mercury, Tiana will have an in-person audition all of training camp. 

“Sandy being able to see what I can do will help my chances at making the Olympic team.” 

That audition begins Sunday in Phoenix for SU’s all-time leader in assists. 

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