Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson returned to the court Wednesday after a 10-month layoff. Jackson, who had hamstring surgery in January, joined her Australian national team to defeat New Zealand 66-50 in the opening game of the Oceania championship.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center and three-time WNBA MVP, scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds in her first game since Seattle lost 73-72 to Minnesota in Game 3 of an opening-round WNBA playoff series in October. Jackson finished that road game with nine points on 1-for-7 shooting with six rebounds, missing a possible game-winner with 1.2 seconds left.
“I’m just happy I got that game out of the way. It feels so good to be out there pain- free,” Jackson told Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. “I couldn’t walk before I had the surgery. I’m feeling pretty good about things now. There was a period where I thought I’d never play again, but to come out here tonight … New Zealand is our neighbor, so it feels like home a bit and it feels good.”
The Opals face the Tall Ferns on Sunday in Canberra. The teams are vying for slots for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
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Jackson, 32, notified the Storm in February she wouldn’t return for the 2013 WNBA season due to the injury. Her contract was suspended with the understanding she’d return to Seattle in 2014.
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