WNBL: Batkovic gives Fire finals hopes

Image Credit: Townsville Fire

A huge weekend for the Fire saw them edge into the top 4 after two big wins, on the back of two huge performances from veteran Suzy Batkovic.

Townsville turned heads as they ruined Dandenong's plans of a home-court win, surging to a 92-78 win.

Bringing their best game with them, the Fire looked slick as they coordinated a strong team game. Capitalising on their presence inside, they won the rebound count 44-26, and showed off with a huge 22 assists.

With no surprises, Suzy Batkovic led the way with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists as the competition searches for an answer to her dominance. Micaela Cocks was damaging with 25 points and Mia Murray too showed her class with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Sara Blicavs was Dandenong's best with 24 points, but it was a mix of defensive errors and lack of intensity that cost the Rangers a home-court win.

Taking things to yet another level, the Rangers then headed to Bendigo to take on their arch rival and secured a hard-fought win at 83-77.

Batkovic's dominance was still unable to be stopped as the veteran totalled a huge 31 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocked shots. Her massive weekend gave her side some real hope for a finals campaign as they edged to fourth spot, and also secured her a deserving Player of the Week honour.

Check out all of Batkovic's highlights below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-CRhF-iOHQ

For Bendigo, it was a brutal loss. Solid efforts came from Kelsey Griffin (28 points, 8 rebounds), Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Blake Dietrick (12 points, 5 assists). Despite a late surge from the Spirit, Townsville showed they were sharper and took back control of the game in the final quarter.

Despite a valiant effort from the Adelaide Lightning, they missed out on an opportunity to secure their first home win after they let Canberra come from behind to steal a 74-66 point victory.

Scoring the game's last eight points, Canberra tightened up their defence after an early deficit which led the way for a more constructed offence.

Leading the way was stalwart Marianna Tolo, who totalled 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in her dominant performance. She was followed closely by consistent performer Lauren Mansfield who capitalised on some opportunities to bring in 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

Alex Ciabattoni was a standout for the Lightning, top scoring for the South Australians with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. Her efforts were complemented by the hard working Laura Hodges who dug deep for her points.

A sharp Perth Lynx were back to their best in Perth over the weekend, denying Canberra a win at 84-72.

It was a battle between arguably two of the league's best guards, as the quick Sami Whitcomb fronted up against the silky smooth Lauren Mansfield. It was a win for Whitcomb, who managed 27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. However Mansfield still played to her strengths as Canberra's best for the day, securing 19 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.

Carley Mijovic was strong with 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Ruth Hamblin provided a good target inside with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

This loss makes things really difficult for the Capitals to sneak a finals spot with only two weeks left.

Sydney were given a wake up call from the Boomers, who came at them with all they could but eventually lost at 72-67. Hoping to secure top spot, the Flames now must win one of their two remaining games to make their hopes a reality.

The Boomers displayed a strong game, filled with the effort and passion they consistently play with - but they couldn't match Sydney's strength. Maddie Garrick was Melbourne's best with 16 points, whilst Brittany Smart (11 points) and Rebecca Cole (10 points, 6 rebounds) also displayed strong games.

However it was all Asia Taylor, the dynamic forward tore Melbourne's hopes apart as she totalled 28 points and 15 rebounds. Belinda Snell and Jennifer Hamson too provided a handy game with 10 points a piece.


Round 18 Previews

Townsville Fire v Dandenong Rangers

The Rangers will be seeking redemption after Townsville embarrassed them in front of their home crowd. Dandenong will be working hard this week to do just that after a tough loss.

Key Match-Ups:

Micaela Cocks v Steph Cumming

Adelaide Lightning v Melbourne Boomers

Whilst this game will lack the anticipation of some others, still expecting them to fight it out in honour. Adelaide will be looking to secure their first home win whilst the Boomers will hope to add another win to their season.

Key Match-Ups:

Samantha Logic v Maddie Garrick

Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit

Both these teams are just on the outer of the top 4 right now, and they'll be looking for a win to keep their dreams alive. It's a must win for both.

Key Match-Ups:

Mikaela Ruef v Kelsey Griffin

Sydney Flames v Dandenong Rangers

A tough double header for the Rangers on the road will bring them to the current number 1 position holders. Sydney hold the advantage but the Rangers are capable of great things.

Key Match-Ups:

Asia Taylor v Sara Blicavs

Perth Lynx v Melbourne Boomers

Over in Perth, the Lynx should secure this one. Melbourne can provide them with a good scare.

Key Match-Ups:

Sami Whitcomb v Brittany Smart