Shyla Heal set to join Townsville Flames, Shane Heal investigation Sydney Flames latest updates

Shyla Heal set to join Townsville Flames, Shane Heal investigation Sydney Flames latest updates

One of Australian basketball’s biggest young stars is set for a shock late-season club switch to a championship contender as the Sydney Flames prepare to complete the WNBL season without marquee player Shyla Heal and coach Shane Heal.

Several outlets reported on Tuesday night that Shyla would join the Townsville Fire for the remainder of the season following a mutual parting of ways with the Flames, who remained silent on an investigation into Shyla’s father Shane.

The Herald Sun reported Shyla flew to Perth on Tuesday and expects the WNBL to mark her clearance to the Fire, allowing her to line up in Townsville’s clash with fellow top-four contenders Perth Lynx on Wednesday night.

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For a player to be eligible for WNBL finals, they must have played at least one-third of the regular season for the same club. Townsville, who are third on the competition ladder, have seven games left in their 21-match season, meaning Shyla would be eligible for the Fire’s finals campaign if she suits on Wednesday night and then in all of Townsville’s remaining regular played season games.

In a curious post on Tuesday, Shyla shared an Instagram story that read: “Some endings lead to better ones.”

Shane Heal has been the head coach of the Sydney Flames in recent seasons. Photo: James WorsfoldSource: Getty Images

The dramatic development comes amid the Flames’ investigation into Shane Heal, who has been mysteriously absent, along with Shyla, from Sydney’s past three games. Both Shane and the Flames chose not to comment on the nature of the investigation.

“I’m sure it will come out at some point, but right now you know I can’t say anything,” Heal told News Corp’s The Basketball Show this week.

“I get messages from journalists everywhere. I can’t say anything, my hands are tied. At some point I will be able to speak.”

The club released two tweets ahead of the first two games without the Heal’s, announcing that Shane was “unavailable to coach” and that Shyla would miss out “due to personal reasons”. Assistant coach Shelley Gorman – a WNBL legend and Olympic medalist with the Opals – was asked to take the reins for the first game with just over 24 hours’ notice.

Asked by The Basketball Show co-presenter Jo Healy if he was okay, Shane said this week: “I’m doing really well. Thank you for caring.”

Shyla Heal is set to join the Townsville fire. Photo: James WorsfoldSource: Getty Images

Asked if Shyla was doing well, he added: “It’s fine and hopefully you’ll see her soon too.”

A Boomers legend who represented Australia at four Olympic Games and captained the Sydney Kings to their first NBL championship in 2003, Shane Heal has signed a three-year deal in March 2021 to be the new Flames head coach.

A month later, Shyla joined her father with the Flames after a breakout campaign for the Townsville Fire in the 2020 WNBL Center season. This came after she was taken by the Chicago Sky with Pick 8 in the 2021 WNBA draft, only to be brutally cut after just four games.

Shyla, 21, is now widely regarded as one of the best point guards in Australia, highlighted by consistent selection in Opals squads over the past 12 months. She was recently named in the extended Opals 2023 squad alongside the likes of Cayla George, Tess Madgen and Ezi Magbegor.

Wednesday night’s Lynx-Fire WNBL clash will be televised on ESPN, available to watch through Kayo Sports.

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