October 10, 2019 | WNBL news

Round 1 Preview

After 237 days, new recruits including some star imports, some exciting preseason clashes and an announcement that all games will be live streamed in the 19/20 season, WNBL’s 40th season is upon us and its set to be bigger, bolder and better than ever.

Game 1 Adelaide Lightning v Sydney Uni Flames
Friday October 11
Titanium Security Arena, 7:00pm local time

The excitement of the season opener rests firmly on the shoulders of the Adelaide Lightning and Sydney Uni Flames, as they are set to tip off at Titanium Security Arena on Friday night at 7pm.

The Lightning are coming off a successful yet equally disappointing 18/19 campaign, coming in Runners Up behind the reigning league champions, the UC Capitals who took out the final game of season with a 20-point win against the Lightning.

The recent signing of star WNBA and Seattle Storm championship-winning player, Crystal Langhorne, might just provide the x-factor the Lightning need to kick off the season and get some momentum heading into the season. Another great move for the Lightning was picking up veteran and multiple championship winning, point guard – legend, Natty Hurst. She adds leadership and an incredible 3pt shooting percentage to an already deep Adelaide Lightning outfit.

The Flames meanwhile showed some impressive preseason form, including a dominant display over the Townsville Fire, winning by 19 points in their first game and 6 in the second – a performance that Head Coach Katrina Hibbert and General Manager Karen Dalton were very pleased with. Going into the season as underdogs, can this team’s chemistry with a new head coach and a healthy roster send some shock waves through the league? New recruits Lauren Scherf and Colleen Planetta are sure to offer great support and plenty of scoring power to guards Tahlia Tupea, Alex Wilson and veteran, Brit Smart.

It is going to be fun to see Lightning’s star recruit make an early impact, and will it be enough to get Adelaide over the line or will the Flames’ consistency ultimately prevail?

Watch the game live via the WNBL website livestream from 7pm local time.

Game 2 Bendigo Spirit v Melbourne Boomers
Saturday October 12
Bendigo Stadium, 7:00pm local time

A Victorian derby will be game 2 of the opening round, with the Bendigo Spirit taking on last season’s second placed, Deakin Melbourne Boomers.

The Spirit had a strong preseason performance against the Boomers in LaTrobe Valley, coming out on top with a nail-biting 2 point victory. However, with a new WNBA recruit in the Boomers camp, Sophie Cunningham joining superstar Lindsay Allen (returning from a knee injury) the Boomers may just have the upper hand in the opener.

The experience coming back into this Bendigo outfit in Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson, may get in the way of a Boomers’ win. The strong preseason prep the Spirit enjoyed, not just against the Boomers, but a dominant 22 point outing against the Chinese National Team will have given them a well-deserved boost of confidence and the amount of championships won amongst the experienced Richards and Wilson is definitely something that you can’t dismiss.

Melbourne have had a interrupted pre season with 6 players and the head coach busy with International commitments, and Bendigo having the luxury of having an uninterrupted preseason could be the only difference in this game.

Watch the game live via the WNBL website livestream from 7pm local time.

Game 3 Southside Flyers v JCU Townsville Fire
Saturday October 12
Dandenong Stadium, 7:00pm local time

Newcomers to the league the Southside Flyers will be keen to make their presence felt, when they take on the league’s most northern team – the JCU Townsville Fire, in their season opener on Saturday October 12 from 7pm.

The Flyers’ preseason was a mixed bag, with a lacklustre display against the Spirit, going down by 17 points followed by a strong performance over the Boomers with a 4 point win. This being said, they weren’t playing with their full squad and still have WNBA and Opals star point guard Leilani Mitchell and Opals player, Jenna O’hea to come back in and steer their ship. The newest member of the league will be keen to create some waves from the outset of the season. With their star-studded line-up, expect to see this team doing some incredible things this season.

Conversely, with little preseason preparation by the Fire and an ACL injury to star forward Zitina Akuzo during preseason, the 2017/18 premiers may struggle with so many unknowns including a fresh team line-up and coaching staff and the finding of a new identity without retired superstar, and new mum of twins Suzy Batkovic.  However, the addition of Abby Bishop, another WNBL powerhouse along with Tess Madgen, Micaela Cocks and Darcee Garbin, you cannot discount the ability for the Fire to surprise.

Watch the game live via the WNBL website livestream from 7pm local time.

Game 4 Perth Lynx v Sydney Uni Flames
Sunday October 13
Bendat Basketball Stadium, 1:00pm local time  

The Lynx may have an advantage going into their season opener as fatigue maybe a factor, however the Flames will have gotten their first game nerves out and they will be well into their stride by now. The Flames also need to take advantage of the missing Lynx star, WNBA recruit Ariel Atkins.

The Lynx two-game preseason competition against the Lightning came with mixed results, with one win and one loss. This however, will have given the team lots to work on leading into their season opener, which against a potentially fatigued Flames may prove fruitful. The Lynx have recruited well and acquired Imani McGee-Stafford, a 200cm+ centre who is bound to make her mark in this league early on.

Meanwhile the Flames will be keen to show a strong performance and get their opening weekend off to a good start, whilst putting their lacklustre final placing on the WNBL ladder last season, well and truly behind them.

Watch the game live via the WNBL website livestream from 1pm local time.

Game 5 UC Capitals v Adelaide Lightning
Sunday October 13
AIS Arena, 1:30 local time
Live on Fox Sports

The 2018/19 champions will unveil their championship banner in front of a large crowd, and showcase early that they could go all the way for back-to-back titles. Fans will be excited to see reigning WNBL MVP Kelsey Griffin and WNBA All-star Kia Nurse in action, but it will be interesting to see how the UC Caps compete this year having lost quality point guards Kelly Wilson and Leilani Mitchell in the off season.? Can this team continue in their dominance without two of their very impressive guards? Only time will tell!

Meanwhile the Lightning will be seeking finals’ revenge, after their heartbreaking grand final series loss last season. Having played already two days earlier at home, the Lightning will have the nerves out and we expect they’ll be ready for a bit of pay back!

Given these two teams’ recent history, this game is sure to go down to the wire.

Don’t forget all games are available to watch live either via the WNBL livestream page, or live on Fox Sports. Check the fixture for full details.