Bendigo Spirit suffered an opening-round defeat to the Melbourne Boomers but get an immediate chance to respond and turn the tables on their Victorian rival in Round 2 of the Chemist Warehouse WNBL.
The Spirit are on the road to the State Basketball Centre on Saturday night, looking for an improved display following last weekend’s 87-72 result, then back home Sunday to host the visiting Perth Lynx.
Bendigo coach Tracy York says her team welcomes the opportunity to quickly address areas it lacked against the Boomers in the season opener.
“It’s not necessarily about changing things but looking at what we did and what we can do better,’’ she explains.
“Possession play they were way better than us and we’ve got to definitely improve those areas. If there was a shot going up they were flying in from outside we didn’t do a great job at blocking out, so we’ve got to have a look at those things. Clearly, they’re a good team and if you have a look at their roster I think everyone’s a national either Australian or New Zealand.”
Import centre Becca Tobin missed Round 1 with concussion after copping an elbow in the last 90 seconds of training last Wednesday night.
“She was a big out for us, having played with her all pre-season, we went to plan B so contributions we got off the bench from Shyla Heal and Demi Skinner (14 points apiece) were outstanding I thought. Our other import Marte Grays (14 points) showed some promising and exciting signs too,’’ York said.
“We’ve been monitoring her daily with our doctor. She did a bit of shooting Monday night but has been taking it easy, we’ll know a bit more later in the week.”
York adding the Spirit would weigh up whether to play Tobin in one game of their double, likely the second leg against the Lynx at Bendigo Stadium.
THURSDAY: Southside Flyers v Perth Lynx, 7pm (ADST)
It’s Round 2 and there’s already a fascinating new match-up worth admission alone: Mercedes Russell v Imani McGee-Stafford.
Russell scored the first-ever points for Southside last weekend, finishing with 12 for the game, while McGee-Stafford, who measures in at 201cm, and with 12 points, eight boards, two blocks and two assists, made a debut as bright as her hair.
Import guard Ariel Atkins will likely be eased into the line-up this round, according to coach Andy Stewart, after winning a WNBA championship last week.
FRIDAY: Townsville Fire v Adelaide Lightning, 7pm (AEST)
Townsville, without Abby Bishop, fought hard and showed a ton of character against Southside and will be rapt with the debut of Canadian guard Bridget Carleton and the first-up performances of Tess Madgen and Darcee Garbin.
Adelaide was fantastic against the Flames but will be rueing its second half against the Caps after a blistering start, spearheaded by Lauren Nicholson (32 points).
Gun import Crystal Langhorne shone against Sydney, missed the second game with soreness and will be a welcome inclusion.
Sydney Uni Flames v Southside, 5pm (ADST)
The Flames are back home and out to get some reward for effort after promising displays but ultimately a pair of road defeats in Round 1.
Second game of the weekend for the Flyers who according to coach Cheryl Chambers will relish the chance to travel together and bond as a new group.
Melbourne Boomers v Bendigo Spirit, 7.30pm (ADST)
These two meet for the second time in a week. Plenty to like about the Boomers in their victory last weekend with Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George stretching the Spirit in the absence of Tobin. Lindsay Allen (19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a steal) will face off against 4x WNBL champion Kelly Wilson who would’ve been seething after an opening-round defeat and is primed for a big game.
UC Capitals v Townsville Fire, 2pm (ADST)
The Caps’ second-half against Adelaide last Sunday was something to behold and the reigning champions will know closer to tip-off this round whether they regain their superstar Marianna Tolo from an ankle setback.
A superstar battle looms between the sublime Kelsey Griffin and returning Bishop. Madgen, Carleton and Julie Vanloo will welcome the Caps’ challenge and are key to the Fire’s chances here.
Bendigo Spirit v Perth Lynx. 5pm (ADST), Fox Sports
Bendigo back it up at home less than 24 hours after facing the Boomers while the Lynx have an extra 48 hours to recover after their clash with the Flyers.
Tobin’s availability will be crucial with McGee-Stafford a towering presence for the visitors.
Meanwhile, Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle shape up against their old side for the first time in #WNBL20.