WNBL Round 17 Preview
West Coast vs Dandenong
WA Basketball Center
Friday 31st January
Now with the Finals' picture all but set in stone, the Rangers will look to cement the second position on the Wattle Valley WNBL ladder. They face the West Coast Waves which, on paper, looks like a fantastic chance to push themselves ahead of Melbourne and Townsville, but it's not a game they can take lightly. Dandenong's young bench should receive an opportunity to earn extra playing time right before Finals. Coaches have rested key players in stages against the Waves, so players like Brigitte Ardossi, Rosie Moult and Aimee Clydesdale will be looking to prove themselves. Ardossi has stepped up her game, scoring 10.3 points and an assist per game in limited minutes throughout her past 4 games. With increased minutes, she should likely make a play to establish herself as a player worthy of more game-time and provide adequate support playing the sixth-man role. Dandenong's starters can't fall asleep early in this one.
West Coast aren't playing for sheep-stations or ladder position anymore. Instead, they are playing for respect. Coach Kennedy Kereama of the Waves has done a fantastic job in leading his side through another tumultuous season, and will be looking to constantly challenge the Rangers. They need their B-grade players to step up. People like Zoe Harper and Sharni Amos, who aren't having the best of seasons in terms of statistics, will need to liven the game up through aggressive defense to start the game. The Rangers have dropped games against members of the lower-half of the ladder, can the Waves pull off an upset?
Sorry, I just don't see that happening in this game. Rangers by 19
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Melbourne vs Canberra
State Basketball Center
Saturday 1st February
When were the last time these two teams matched up? Oh wait, it was last week...but, if last week game where the Capitals prevailed in overtime was anything to go by, we should be in store for another terrific game on ABC TV. Abby Bishop is still in contention for the MVP, so can she produce another fearsome effort even though her team is out of the Finals? One of Bishop's biggest assets is her ability to make shots from the line. Her work on the inside leads to foul shots, allowing Abby to convert 67/77 free throws in her last 8 games. Bishop's work at the line remains, yet again, key for the Capitals to win. With numerous close games such as last week's match, it's helpful to have such a talented player that can make free-throws. Her overall ability is also worth taking note too; Bishop is now recognized as one of the better players in the league.
The Boomers missed Chelsea Poppens and her interior presence with a narrow loss of only 3 points, knowing that Chelsea could have stopped premier forward Abby Bishop. However, what's done is done and as unfortunate as the injury is to the Boomers' chances in the Finals, they need a win this week. Amber Hegge and Rebecca Cole will be relied upon in a deeper role in the coming weeks. Melbourne will now be running with 3 and even 4 guard combinations on court, so whoever the person playing at the 4 or 5, will be Melbourne's most important player. Nicole Romeo's spark off the bench has been terrific with the small guard making big shots. Romeo needs to keep this up with Finals in 3 weeks time.
Melbourne will get their revenge at home, in another nail-biter. Boomers by 5
Sydney Uni vs Bendigo
Saturday 1st February
Sydney came out on top and behind, and on both occasions by three points. The Flames need to play a perfect game in order to beat the Bendigo Spirit. Katie-Rae Ebzery is a dynamic scorer, but her teammates has suffered from offensive inconsistency this season. No Flames' player has matched Ebzery's regular output, but in order to defeat the defensive experts of Bendigo, the whole team needs to be hitting shots, preferably above the 50% mark. LeSondra Barrett should be key on the 0ffensive and defensive ends. Only shooting at 26.1% shooting so far, the import has yet to impress. However on the upside, she defends other bigs well and would be critical in defensive plays. She needs to take away easy chances from Penaluna and Griffin.
Without a doubt, Bendigo will finish in first place. It just remains as to whether they can extend the gap between the teams. Sara Blicavs was the winner of the WNBL player of the week with a terrific 19 point, 5.5 rebound average over two games. She shot at 16/21 from the field, an insane number against two terrific teams, taking pressure of the bigs to put the ball into the hoop. Blicavs shot needs to drop for the Spirit and with the streak that she currently has, that would no doubt happen in the coming game.
Bendigo looks to be a good pick to win this one and look for Chelsea Aubry to have an underrated game. Spirit by 8
Logan vs Adelaide
Saturday 1st January
Adelaide will be looking to avenge the two losses last week that left them on the outside looking in on the final four. Logan has a big chance to notch a win against the Lightning who need increased guard play. With Jess Foley still out, Sarah Graham, Kristin Veal and Natalie Taylor (she has been fantastic returning from injury) has to step up. They need to score of course, but need to find a way to do this a lot closer to the basket where these three players are likely to excel. Keeping the ball in their hands has been an issue for the Thunder with numerous players, most notably Emma Langford, having games with more than 3 turnovers.
Jenni Screen has filled the stat-sheet, scoring 11.6 points, 4.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds. Terrific numbers across the board for the veteran. With Foley out, she's provided the effort and ability needed of the second fiddle to Laura Hodges, clearly performing well. She's Adelaide's most important player in the match-up, key to the team's chances of securing a big away win. Hodges may feel she could have been robbed of the elusive Player of the Week honour despite putting up two inspiring performances. Hodges will look to better her all-rounded effort last week and should have a field day going up against the Flames.
Adelaide by 4
Dandenong vs Canberra
Dandenong Basketball Stadium
Sunday 2nd February
Fans in Dandenong on Sunday afternoon will be treated to a high-quality encounter. Both teams are full of exciting players, with the away side suffering a disappointing season by missing out on Finals. Dandenong's Lellani Mitchell who has been a fantastic signing, is crucial to the make-up of the Dandenong roster. After a terrible game last week against the Lightning where she turned the ball over 6 times and fouled out after playing 28 minutes and made only 2 points. Previously, she had been on a terrific run of form and will look to find her way back this week against Natalie Hurst.
Canberra has not seen the Rangers in a while, but when they defeated them in a big upset, it was the work of Carley Mijovic that won the day; Abby Bishop was out injured after playing only 11 minutes. Mijovic finished with 19 points and 5 rebounds, and has been on another terrific run of form recently. Can she inflict the same pain on her former club? The signs seem to say yes. Alex Bunton's work underneath the basket continues to go unnoticed with the talented young big being an excellent rebounder of the ball, averaging 7.6 even with Abby Bishop on the team. Bunton will trouble Kayla Pederson and Jenna O'Hea this Sunday.
Capitals in an upset. Canberra by 1
Townsville vs Adelaide
Townsville RSL Stadium
Sunday 2nd February
Townsville's only game of the weekend comes late, against 5th placed Adelaide. They failed to back up the terrific win against Bendigo, losing to the same team, except by 21 points, at home. Townsville shot a dismal 29.9%, while turning the ball over 10 times more than the Spirit (17-7). Definitely not a recipe for success. They relied too heavily open Suzy Batkovic, while the only person that could leave with her head held high was Rachel McCully. McCully really holds this team together and the veteran has been a star in Townsville's bid for a Finals' outing. Micaela Cocks, Kayla Standish and Steph Cumming combined to shoot 3/21, a number you'd expect out of Under 8 kids. Despite such a performance, they have the talent and ability to make up for last week's poor shooting effort.
Adelaide needs this win to push them over the .500 mark (if they win the first game as well). Their chance for a Finals' spot is all but gone, however, they can still inflict punishment towards the team only 1 spot above them on the ladder. Angela Marino, Laura Hodges, Jenni Screen and gang would feel they were robbed last week, especially against Dandenong, with questionable referee calls in talks coming out of the game.
This is a new week and I know that Adelaide has the mindset of winning, unless they decide to "flop". Lightning by 3
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