Spirit face Capitals for first time in 2023-24
Bendigo Spirit head coach Kennedy Kereama says stopping Canberra’s “engine-room” will be crucial for victory in Sunday’s clash at Red Energy Arena.
Kereama highlighted Jade Melbourne and Alex Sharp as the Capitals’ most dangerous players but knows they’ve got plenty of other weapons in their arsenal.
Canberra (4-9) are currently one win and one spot behind the sixth-placed Spirit (5-8), but have beaten top-four outfits Southside and Perth Lynx this season.
“Canberra are playing good basketball,” Kereama said.
“They’ve knocked off Southside, they just knocked off Perth.
“They’re a really tough team and their engine-room is Jade Melbourne and Alex Sharp, and that’s not taking anything away from Alex Fowler, Alex Bunton, Nicole Munger and Gemma Potter.
“The best way to play a team like that is to not let them get settled, to constantly change things and throw different defensive looks at them.
“That’s probably the challenge for us, to not let their engine-room produce energy for the team, so limiting Jade and Alex Sharp’s impact on the game.”
Bendigo are coming off their highest score and most comprehensive win of the season on Wednesday, thrashing Adelaide 96-68 at home on the back of 52 bench points.
Kereama felt his team would take plenty of confidence out of that result as they prepare to take on the Capitals for the first time in 2023-24.
“Defensively, I thought we really locked into what we needed to do to contain key players in their team,” Kereama said.
“We made every shot difficult for them, and they made a lot of very tough shots.
“Keeping any team to 68 points in this league is excellent.”
Kereama is under no illusions this condensed block of games, six in 19 days, will make or break the Spirit’s finals hopes.
“There’s a lot of must-win games, that’s the type of pressure you’ve got to be able to play under if you’ve got any aspirations to play finals so this game is a must-win,” he said.
Youngsters Sophia Locandro and Ritorya Tamilo got some valuable court time and both hit buckets in the final quarter, much to the delight of their teammates and supporters.
“Everyone in this program works really hard so it was a nice opportunity to reward them with some playing time,” Kereama said.
Spirit v Capitals
Red Energy Arena
Sunday, January 10
Tip-off at 3.30pm EDT