Team Northumbria’s new-look roster continues to take shape with playcaller Chris Bunten set to hand debuts to three new faces this weekend.
The 2016 WBBL playoff winners are in the top half of the Betty Codona Classic draw as they prepare to face Sheffield Hatters in Saturday’s second semi-final.
And Bunten has added European experience and domestic talent to the TN mix prior to this weekend’s pre-season tournament.
Claudia Baraut plied her trade for Lima Horta Barcelona in Spain’s LF2 last season – combining her club career with a stint at the University of Barcelona.
And the 22-year-old centre will be joined by former Barking Abbey favourite Pip Armitage and ex-Reading prospect Cori Burgess at Sport Central this season.
“Claudia is a big body who will take some stopping in the WBBL this season,” said Bunten. “She’ll also be available for Northumbria University in BUCS competition after opting to study for a Masters degree.
“Claudia has bags of experience in Spain’s second division and brings a different dimension to our team. I’m so excited to have her on board.”
Bunten has managed to retain the core of last season’s trophy-winning side and added key figures across the court.
American duo Alison Gorrell and Kara Bonenberger were confirmed as TN players last week after the Tynesiders revealed Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee, Chloe Bully and Abi Asoro would all be returning this season.
Highly rated guard Armitage spent the back end of last season in the NJCAA with Northeast Community College.
And after bagging the ex-Barking Abbey star Bunten added: “Pip will be a tremendous addition to both TN and the BUCS team.
“She gives us another great backcourt option and is committed to Northumbria after securing her place as a Sports, Exercise and Nutrition undergraduate.
“The experience she has gained in America will stand her in good stead but Pip is a player who still boasts a huge amount of untapped potential as far as I’m concerned.”
Burgess is an England Under 17 prospect who joins Northumbria University as a fresher and offers Bunten another opportunity to develop one of England’s most exciting talents.
“Cori has played for Reading at national league level and is ready to make the step up,” added TN’s playcaller. “I’ve been aware of her for some time and I can’t wait to start working with her.”