WNBL Round 12 Preview
Canberra vs Logan
Friday 20th December
Canberra: Abby Bishop - 37 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists - last week vs Logan
Logan: Kristen Veal - 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists - last week vs Canberra
Canberra and Logan face off for the second week running, with the game to be played in the nation's capital. Last week, Canberra dropped a very winnable game against the Thunder, by 11 points, with WNBL player of the week Abby Bishop dominating possession finishing with 37 points and 18 rebounds. Jason Chainey will be ready and will need to adjust how his Logan side defends the Australian Opal in Bishop, as the Thunder were lucky last week that so many Capitals had poor games by their high standards. Kristin Veal will prove crucial for Logan if they are any chance of sneaking an away victory in Canberra. She had her best scoring performance for the season last week, while dishing off crucial assists in an entertaining battle with fellow point guard Natalie Hurst. Whoever can win this thrilling match-up should move closer to the win. Sarah Graham's presence off the bench will be crucial for Logan, as they'll need another big scoring performance from her.
The Capitals should look to feed the ball to Abby Bishop, early and often. The Thunder are almost undersized for a WNBL side, and with that, Bishop should make key advantage of whatever height differential she has over her opponents. If Alex Bunton returns from nose surgery this week, look for her and Bishop to create a lethal duo underneath the ring, with a nice 1-2 game from the both of them. Natalie Hurst is stating her claim that she may just be the best point guard in the league. After having a terrific 33-point game earlier in the week against Townsville, Kristin Veal had the better of Hurst in their match-up last week. Hurst was only held to 11 points but still managed to dish out 7 assists. Decent numbers, but in a game where Abby needed dear scoring help, Veal did a great job of limiting her impact. Look for Hurst to bounce back this week.
Canberra at home, with Alex Bunton in play should be able to beat up on the Thunder. After a disappointing loss last week against this team, Canberra should have the edge over Logan. Capitals by 4
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Bendigo vs Dandenong
Friday 20th December
Bendigo Basketball Stadium
Bendigo: Elyse Penaluna - 25 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks - last week vs Sydney
Dandenong: Jenna O'Hea - 18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists - last week vs Sydney
This week's most entertaining match-up is most definitely the thrilling match-up in Bendigo on Friday night. The league's premier side, Bendigo look to extend their insane win streak to a total of 12 games, while Dandenong will be looking to close the gap they face between first and second place. Bendigo's tall timber continue to force opposing teams to struggle on offense. Having kept the opposition sides to under 70 points in the previous 4 games, the Spirit's defense will need to be in check facing the Rangers. After cracking the century mark in points last week for a second time this season, Bendigo may struggle to contain the plethora of offensive options Mark Wright has available to him. Elyse Penaluna, Kelsey Griffin and Gabe Richards will all need to protect the paint efficiently in order to protect a scoring enslaught. Last time they played, Bendigo kept the Rangers to 51 points, was it a fluke or can they do it again?
Much like Bendigo, Dandenong will need to focus on the defensive side of the floor in order to sustain a victory. Both sides are highly efficient scoring, so the winner will be whoever can limit easy opportunities more often. Jenna O'Hea and Lellani Mitchell have both been terrific for the Rangers as of late. The WNBL-experienced duo have captivated crowds on the offensive and defensive end, with both players almost earning the rarely-seen triple-double. Lellani will face off against the flawless veteran that is Kristi Harrower. Both are extremely talented passing the ball, so each guard needs to focus on limiting each others passing lanes.
Bendigo are the league's best team, and they are so for a reason. The Spirit will fight hard for victory, but they'll get there with a huge last-quarter performance. Spirit by 8
West Coast vs Townsville
Friday 20th December
WA Basketball Center
West Coast: Toni Edmonson - 17 points, 2 assists - last week vs Melbourne
Townsville: Suzy Batkovic - 26 points, 17 rebounds - last week vs Canberra
Opposing teams are starting to really enjoy playing the Waves. They try their hardest, but their roster simply does not have the talent the rest of the league is able to enjoy. Townsville should be in for an easy one against the Waves, who are looking like they can't wait for the Christmas break to start. Antonia Edmonson, Melissa Marsh and Natalie Burton all continue to hold their young side together with spirited performances against the league's top sides. Antonia Edmonson is capable of scoring 15+ points for the Waves on any given night, and is the most dangerous player for West Coast. She combines her scoring ability with her passing, where she sets up teammates with easy shots. West Coast ideally need to focus on not turning the ball over frequently, but that job is made difficult if you have the 192 cm machine that is Suzy Batkovic standing in your way. Natalie Burton and the West Coast crew will struggle to contain her, so forcing her outside the key whenever possible is the best way to limit her impact.
Townsville, Townsville, Townsville. Not only did they lose third spot last week after falling to the Canberra Capitals in a must-win game, they now find themselves with a two-game gap between themselves and 3rd placed Melbourne. This will make this road-trip ever so important. Olivia Thompson should get another big opportunity to strut her stuff, after scoring 19 points and 8 rebounds playing extended minutes against the Waves last time they faced. Micaela Cocks and Steph Cumming should be able to enjoy a field day from range, Rachael McCully should fill the assist section of the score-sheet and Suzy Batkovic should be able to dominate everywhere on the court.
No way the Fire can lose this one. Townsville by 18
Sydney Uni vs Logan
Saturday 21st December
Sydney Uni: LeSondra Barrett - 18 points, 10 rebounds - last week vs Dandenong
Logan: Hannaz Zavecz - 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists - last week vs Canberra
Sydney lost both games last week, with the second encounter against Bendigo being a lackluster game played by the Flames. Logan defeated the Capitals last week in a team where four starters reached double-digit points, and the other notched up 6 assists. Sydney Uni will be relying on new import to show the Sydney crowd in her first appearance in the Bryden's Stadium, something much similar to the Dandenong game, where she collected a nice 18/10 double-double. Having LeSondra in the fold makes Sydney a more dangerous side, who is playing a bigger role than former import Ashley Gayle. Katie-Rae Ebzery should be able to put behind a disappointing week (shot 2/9 and 4/13 from the field) and turn it into a positive performance in front of her supportive home crowd.
Logan was overwhelmingly impressive against the Caps, beating them on the boards by 9. Playing without Laurie Koehn, Sarah Graham was inserted into the starting line-up and brought the same spark to the core 5 that she usually delivers from the bench. Bench scoring will be crucial for the Thunder, with Graham, Holly Smith and Mikhalea Donnelly all contributing with impressive shooting performances. Hannah Zavecz and Emma Langford need to impose themselves on the boards quickly against the Spirit. With new import LeSondra Barrett in the fold, it's going to take a team effort to keep her from keeping Sydney involved through 2nd chance points.
I like the way Logan played last week, if they can produce the same team effort against the Flames away from home, there's no reason to say they can't achieve victory. Thunder by 3
Adelaide vs Townsville
Sunday 22nd December
Adelaide: Angela Marino - 11 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds - last week vs Melbourne
Townsville: Kayla Standish - 16 points, 7 rebounds - last week vs Canberra
In the week's only Sunday encounter, the Fire will look to finish their west-coast road trip on a high. The Adelaide Lightning will be no pushovers though, with Jess Foley and Angela Marino both picking up their games in recent weeks to fully supplement Laura Hodges. The Laura Hodges/Suzy Batkovic battle for supremacy might just be the most exciting encounter for the week. Both girls are the stars of their own respective franchises and are capable of putting points up in a hurry. Look for each side to attempt to put their cornerstones in a position to score early. Chay Shegog is doing an admirable job after signing with the Lightning. Her minutes have slowly picked up and so has her production, with 15 rebounds in her last 2 games. If Shegog gets large minutes, book her in for an easy double-d0uble.
Steph Cumming (54.5%), Micaela Cocks (42.3%) and Mia Newley (38.5%) are all shooting lights-out from deep. These shooters should be getting easy opportunities out of eventual Batkovic double-teams. With Suzy receiving high attention, one of these shooters should find themselves wide open. Future stars Tiana Mangakahia and Alex Wilson will look to contribute in limited minutes.
I really like the look of Adelaide this game, Laura Hodges returning to full-form and Chay Shegog potentially earning more minutes helps me push the Lightning over the line, home advantage also helps. Adelaide by 5
Which WNBL game are you looking forward to?