Canberra Capitals lose Alex Bunton to WNBL rival Adelaide Lightning

The Canberra Capitals have lost the battle to retain Alex Bunton after Adelaide Lightning announced it had signed the centre on Friday on a one-season deal. 

Canberra was desperate to keep the ACT junior, who averaged 8.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season off the bench, in her second year with the WNBL club.

It is believed Bunton was keen to chase bigger minutes elsewhere, aware she was destined to play second fiddle to Opals centre Lauren Jackson next season. 

The 20-year-old is on tour with the Opals in the US, and has spent the off-season playing in the South East Australian Basketball League for Bendigo Lady Braves. 

Bunton's departure means the Capitals will ramp up their quest to re-sign star forward Abby Bishop, who is about to return home after a short playing stint in Hungary. 

If Bishop returns, Canberra will boast the league's best starting post combination, with Jackson also pencilled in. 

Jackson is the only player the Capitals have officially signed for 2014-15, with the planned handover of the club's license from Basketball ACT to the University of Canberra still in limbo. 

It remains uncertain whether fellow young "big" Carley Mijovic will return after she was drafted by WNBA club Washington Mystics last month. 

The 19-year-old, also on the Opals US Tour, has attracted strong interest from cashed-up European clubs. 

It is understood Opals point guard Natalie Hurst will return to play in Europe after the former championship winner played for the Capitals last season. 

Meanwhile, Canberra product Jesse Wagstaff has signed a two-year deal, with the option for a third, with Perth Wildcats. 

Wagstaff is the first player to re-sign with the reigning NBL champions after they beat the Adelaide 36ers in the finals series. 

“For the last five years, since I’ve been here, we’ve kept a good bunch of people around, the club is surrounded by good people and that’s a big factor in me staying,'' Wagstaff said.

"Perth is pretty much home for my partner and I, add to that a bit of success and it was a pretty easy decision.”

Last month, fellow Canberra product Anthony Petrie took up a one-year contract extension option with the 36ers.

The story Canberra Capitals lose Alex Bunton to WNBL rival Adelaide Lightning first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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