Scoring ace taps to exciting beat

SMILING FORCE: Ipswich Force basketballer Nadeen Payne shows how much she loves playing the game during last weekend’s state league match at Booval.
SMILING FORCE: Ipswich Force basketballer Nadeen Payne shows how much she loves playing the game during last weekend’s state league match at Booval. David Nielsen

PERSONALITY-charged Ipswich Force forward Nadeen Payne fittingly laughs when told she's the team's "smiling assassin".

Wearing distinctive pink shoes and regularly among the top scoring stats, Payne is one of those players every team appreciates.

"I love basketball - it is the best thing ever," Payne said, explaining why she's always got a smile on her face.

"I need to enjoy basketball to play my best. I just love being out on the court."

That was the case last Saturday night when Payne provided the Force's offensive backbone when the team struggled for much of the first half.

Although the Force team was always going to recover against Northside, it was Payne's commitment that set up Ipswich's third win of the state league season.

"I'm individually pretty happy," said Payne, who turns 20 next week.

"But as a team, we just really need to start from the get-go and be switched on from the first quarter because we've been struggling a bit with that.

"I don't care who scores as long as someone is scoring."

The Women's National Basketball League player and former AIS scholarship holder knows Gladstone will provide a tougher challenge in Sunday's match at Ipswich stadium.

With WNBL players like Natalie Hurst, Jessica Bibby and Rebecca Haynes to contend with, Payne expects Gladstone to "shoot the life out of the ball".

As the tallest Force player at 188cm, Payne hopes her side will be up for the challenge at noon on Sunday against the competition's second-placed team.

But being addicted to online shopping, the player nicknamed "Nadz" plans to continue enjoying her basketball in her second QBL season for Ipswich.

"I really like the community base of Ipswich. I'm a really community person," she said.

Payne said she appreciated all the support from a city with a strong sporting environment.

Force made the state league semi-finals last season, adding to Payne's satisfaction at joining Ipswich.

"I was really stoked with that," she said. "It was a good experience."

However, while the state league is proving valuable, the Townsville born and bred player continues to play for Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL.

She's a former Australian under-17 and under-19 player who spent a year-and-a-half at the AIS in Canberra.

Payne had two seasons with Townsville and played last season with Adelaide.

"I've re-signed so I'm going back there after this season," she said.

However, the certified massuese still applies a superstition she started while playing for Adelaide.

"I tap my left foot then right foot during the national anthem," she said.

"One game I had a really good game after I did that one time and it kind of just stuck with me.

"I do that all the time now."

So when fans see the ever-smiling Payne tapping away in her favourite pink shoes before a game, they can share her enthusiasm by cheering Force to victory.


Olympic inspiration

NADEEN Payne rates her Adelaide national league teammate and Olympian Suzy Batkovic her favourite sportswoman.

"She's a great person and unbelievable basketball player," Payne said.

"I was a bit star-struck when I first went there (Adelaide) because you look up to someone from when you were like eight years old and you want to be like them.

"It was pretty unreal experience to play alongside her."

Payne hopes to one day represent Australia at the Olympics like Batkovic.

She thrived on her year-and-a-half scholarship at the AIS before joining the Force.

"You like live, breathe and eat basketball," she said.


Game Day

Sunday: Queensland Basketball League - Ipswich Force v Gladstone at Ipswich stadium, Booval. Women play at noon with men at 2pm.