Here’s a brief look at this week’s match-ups, team by team:
Coach Chris Lucas’ team will attempt back-to-back wins as they host the Townsville Fire after accounting for the Dandenong Rangers last week.
Expect the usual suspects of Nia Coffey, Lauren Nicholson and Steph Blicavs to strike for the Lightning and for Lucas to use Nicole Seekamp to great effect. The Lightning’s guard is in career best form, shooting 56% from the perimeter while averaging five assists and four rebounds per game. They’ve only lost one game at home this season, in round two to the Fire, and chances are Seekamp and co. won’t be letting that happen again.
The Spirit will host the Dandenong Rangers at home on Friday evening before flying out to take on the Sydney Flames on Sunday afternoon.
The Spirit sit 5-2 on the ladder and they’ve had to scrape out some close wins, but a good team finds ways to win no matter what, says import Barbara Turner.
“To grind out those type of games gives us confidence and builds the team character,” she said.
“We’ve prepared really well this week, we’re focused and making good progress.”
Turner says playing two games this weekend gives them a chance to improve.
“We can rack up as many wins as we can before the Christmas break.”
The Rangers will make the two hour drive up the Calder to tackle the Spirt on Friday night, then on to Canberra for Sunday’s game. Coach Larissa Anderson will be hoping for a much improved defensive effort from her troops this round, having given up scores of 90, 101, and 99 in their last three games.
One shining light has been off-season recruit Bec Cole, who continues to post impressive numbers, averaging 18 points and 4 rebounds per game.
Guy Molloy’s Boomers are working cohesively and finding different ways to keep the scoreboard rolling over nicely. They fly to Perth to battle the Lynx on Friday evening before hosting the Townsville Fire on Sunday afternoon.
Cayla George and Lindsay Allen have both starred individually, George against the Sydney Flames (27 points) and Allen against the Townsville Fire ( 29 points and 6 assists). The Fire will have their hands full with these two as well as the irrepressible Maddy Garrick who is working her way into form.
With a five-game winning streak, the Lynx sit atop the WNBL ladder one game clear of the Bendigo Spirit.
Britt McPhee continues to impress in her debut WNBL season, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game. Along with Alison Schwagmeyer and Asia Taylor, the Lynx have one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Playing just once this round against the Boomers on Friday evening, expect the Lynx to be well rested for their home game.
Sydney Uni Flames
After the luckless Flames went down to Bendigo in a heartbreaking loss last week, expect them to bounce back in the return game against the Spirit on Sunday afternoon.
Ally Wilson will have needed the break after playing all 40 minutes in that loss and will be keen to reverse the scoreline. Alex Bunton, who didn’t have her best offensive game, will also be keen to make amends. Expect the home crowd to give captain and crowd favourite Belinda Snell a rousing reception.
In Batkovic’s absence, the Fire will look to rising star Zitina Aokuso to shoulder some of the scoring and defensive load. Tess Madgen and Mikaela Donnelly will hope to ignite their team and halt the Fire’s losing streak.
University of Canberra Capitals
Kelsey Griffin, or ‘KG 23’ as Megan Hustwaite is now calling her, is in stellar form, providing some of the season’s highlights with her athleticism and game smarts.
Despite scoring 30 points and bringing down 18 rebounds in her side’s loss to the Lynx last week, KG 23 won’t be resting on her laurels as they take on the Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
If Griffin, Canadian import Kia Nurse and point guard Kelly Wilson are allowed the freedom to play as they want, this could be the round’s biggest blow-out.