The first day of the Phoenix Mercury training camp was the tale of opposites. The legendary veteran is signed for two years and ready to have another great season, while the rookie Tiana Mangakahia is ready to start carving her own niche in the league.
Taurasi is entering her 18th WNBA season, all with the Phoenix Mercury. Having signed a two year contract in the offseason, Taurasi will most likely end her career with the Mercury, although she's not ready to say this will be her last contract.
Coach Sandy Brondello discussed having the legend and the rookie in camp. She is already familiar with Mangakahia from their time with Team Australia. Brondello thinks the combination of experience and youth between the two will produce winning results.
In the press session, the nine-time All-Star talked about creating challenges for herself every offseason. Taurasi said she works every day in the gym. She performs various drills to work on every aspect of conditioning and her game in particular.
As the team vet, everyone looks to Taurasi. That is especially the case with newcomer Mangakahia.
The rookie talked about watching Taurasi and learning from her. Mangakahia stated, “I just feel very blessed for this opportunity, especially learning from Skylar (Diggins-Smith) and Diana.
Taurasi returned the compliment. “What an incredible story. “What an incredible fighter she is. To be able to get through and to be back on the court doing something that she loves is amazing.”
The fight Taurasi is referencing is Mangakahia's battle with breast cancer. In 2019, she fought stage 2, grade 3 breast cancer, including eight rounds of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy. She underwent 18 months of post-surgery hormonal treatment. The good news is she is off medication, feeling great and ready to follow Taurasi's lead, while creating her own legacy.