WNBL Preliminary Final Preview - Deja Vu?

Am I experiencing deja vu? Didn't we see Dandenong and Townsville face off in the Preliminary Final for the right to host Bendigo in the Grand Final last season? That's right, they did. Townsville won the encounter this time last year, but can they make repeat their success of last season? Or will Dandenong seek redemption by ousting Townsville and winning the right to play against the Spirit?

Read below to find out more.

Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.


To date, Dandenong are 3-0 in the season series against the Townsville Fire.

They've won games by margins of 3, 15 and 20 respectively. They even managed to pull off a huge 103-point performance in their 20-point win against the Fire; a game which saw Jenna O'Hea, Alice Kunek and Natalie Novosel combine for 61.

Dandenong has the league's most exciting offence. They are capable of putting up 85+ points on any given night and their quick movement of the basketball excites fans. However, in last week's game, that exciting offence was nowhere to be seen. They struggled to establish their usual flow and in turn were kept to only 62 points, far from their 83 points per game season average they've been so used to. Dandenong needs to work the ball around and establish their usual offence early. A big part of this requires phenomenal point guard Leilani Mitchell being a scoring threat; able to attract the attention of the defense would enable her to work the ball around and finding the array of shooters on the Rangers' roster for open shots.

Brigitte Ardossi was a huge spark off the bench in the first quarter against Bendigo. She scored 10 points in the period and consistently frustrated the Bendigo defence. One might ask how her first quarter effort affected the game. During that period, Dandenong won the period 23-17, but faltered down the stretch when the bench withered away. Ardossi, or another member of the bench such as Alison Downie or Aimee Clydesdale will need to consistently put points on the board throughout the game for the Rangers to have a fighting chance.

Is there any other player that is more dominant in this league than Suzy Batkovic? She has been a force on the boards and has also been spectacular on defence, scoring and passing; whatever you can think of, Suzy can do it. She's like the WNBL's version of Kevin Love. She torched Melbourne last week with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. Batkovic holds this team together through her work in the paint. This game, to me, should rely upon Batkovic's ability to dish the ball out to open shooters. Micaela Cocks, Steph Cumming and Mia Newley need to be working their way around the arc to create a fearsome inside/outside punch.

Rachael McCully's ability to limit Leilani Mitchell's impact on the game could be the difference between winning and losing. Last week, Kristi Harrower who has a similar playing style as McCully, managed to shut down Mitchell and keeping her to 2 points and 5 assists. McCully needs to stay on Mitchell throughout the game, much like what Harrower did, to limit the impact that the All-Star Five guard can make. The Rangers have struggled whenever Leilani isn't performing as usual, so Chris Lucas should be paying the most attention into shutting her down, not Jenna O'Hea or Alice Kunek.

With only 1 game in this round, be sure to get your weekly WNBL fix by tuning into ABC at 3PM this Sunday afternoon to watch the game live from Dandenong Basketball Stadium.

For more player stats, do check out FOX SPORTS PULSE.

Don’t forget to check out the ABC Grandstand Sport’s TV schedule for the Finals match-ups or if you’re short on time, the live stats on WNBL. Stay tuned for more exciting WNBL news, right here, at the Pick and Roll.