October 12, 2017 | WNBL news

Game of the Week

JCU Townsville Fire v University of Canberra Capitals at Townsville Stadium, Friday, 7.00pm (local time)

Only one club will remain unbeaten after Friday night with Townsville hosting the Caps in an early battle of the top teams in the league.

The Fire put the league on notice after a crushing defensive performance against the Boomers last weekend, holding them to only 54 points as Cayla George owned the paint with 17 points and 22 rebounds while every member of the side hit the scoreboard.

Suzy Batkovic suffered from foul trouble and had little impact but still recording a win without their five-time MVP producing is a very positive sign for the Fire who proved George, alongside youngsters Darcee Garbin and Zitina Aokuso, can hold their own.

The Caps will be putting work into their front court scout this week and they will need big games from Jordan Hooper and Lauren Scherf to help curb the influence of those Townsville forwards with Batkovic sure to be fired up this weekend.

Hooper was outstanding last weekend for the Capitals, averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over two wins but Scherf struggled to find her touch, shooting just 2-13 from the field.

However, they had contributors all over the floor thanks to Natalie Hurst’s ten assists per game while Kate Gaze, Ezi Magbegor, Rachel Jarry and Mistie Bass all notched double-figures in at least one contest off the bench.

Townsville’s second unit cannot be underestimated either thanks to the likes of Mikhaela Donnelly and Micaela Cocks but they will need their starting forwards including George who will be celebrating her 200th game, to power their way to victory as the Caps will aim to wear them down with their depth.


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MAC Adelaide Lightning v Perth Lynx at Titanium Security Arena Thursday, 7.30pm (local time)

The Lightning got 2017/18 off to the perfect start last Friday night with a win over the defending Champions but they could not keep that good fortune going, falling to the Caps two days later.

Perth, meanwhile, could not match it with Sydney Uni as they surrendered 93 points and were out-scored by 12 from the three-point line despite the heroics of Courtney Williams who tallied 26 points and 12 rebounds in her debut.

That defence will need to improve quickly in order to shut down the likes of Nicole Seekamp and Lauren Nicholson as well as Vanessa Panousis who all showed they are capable from long range.

Adelaide’s Ruth Hamblin will come up against her old club as well to add a bit of spice to the contest which will force Amanda Dowe to be at her best defensively.

Kayla Standish, in her 100th game, will take on Abby Bishop who averaged 14.5 points and showed off her passing ability with 3.5 assists but Standish’s three-point shot will force the 2015 MVP away from the basket and could through the home side out of rhythm in the round opener.


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Deakin Melbourne Boomers v Bendigo Bank Spirit at Geelong Arena Friday, 7.30pm (local time)

For the second year in a row, the Boomers will head to Geelong to host a WNBL regular season game but this time they will go up against intrastate rivals, Bendigo.

Melbourne impressed on opening night with a convincing win over Dandenong but cracks in their armour appeared against Townsville when they shot just 30% and were doubled up in points off turnovers.

They are still figuring out how best to utilise Liz Cambage and the Boomers will be hoping to see more court time from her as the season wears on but in the meantime, Jenna O’Hea is holding down the fort while players like Bec Cole and Monique Conti look full of confidence this season.

Bendigo showed flashes of a playoff-calibre team last weekend in a 13-point loss to the Caps but were always chasing their tails after a 12-22 opening term.

Kelsey Griffin and Betnijah Laney proved they will be a handful though, combining for 41 points and five steals with their ability to finish at the rim a major asset.

They will struggle to contain the size of Cambage in the paint and Melbourne could simply penetrate and dish high passes to their centre while the imminent return of Louella Tomlinson will further strengthen their forward stocks.

Bendigo will be relying on the likes of Nadeen Payne, Rachel Banham and Ash Karaitiana to find their stroke and match the offensive production of the home side.


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Bendigo Bank Spirit v Perth Lynx at Bendigo Stadium Saturday, 3.00pm (local time)

The Spirit will head home after their clash in Geelong to host Perth in the televised game for the week on FOX Sports Australia channel 503.

While it is a short turnaround for Bendigo, Perth will also travel over after a match against Adelaide on Thursday night and if they can make the most of their transition game, the Spirit could run the Lynx off their feet.

After recording just eight points on 4-12 shooting in their first game, Sami Whitcomb may be readjusting to the WNBL rings after a stint in the WNBA but the Spirit will be wary of her in her third game back alongside Williams who has already shown off her scoring credentials.

That puts pressure on Bendigo point guard import Banham to perform at both ends of the court on Saturday in an international back court battle after she had ten points, four assists and a steal last weekend while Laney will also be keen to perform as she faces her old club for the first time.


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Watch: FOX Sports Australia channel 503.

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames v Jayco Dandenong Rangers at Brydens Stadium Saturday, 7.00pm (local time)

While this is a Grand Final replay, both teams have more important things to worry about as they aim to get their 2017/18 campaigns on track after they both dropped games in Round 1.

Sydney Uni were able to bounce back with a victory over Perth following their loss to Adelaide though, averaging 86.5 points across two games with all five starters aside from Asia Taylor hitting double-figures in both contests.

That electrifying offence will be tough for the Rangers to contain after they scored just 61 points against the Boomers as only seven players hit the scoreboard.

Kayla Pedersen did a solid job on Cambage and will most likely face up against 200cm centre Jennifer Hamson which leaves another thrilling instalment for the battle between Taylor and Sara Blicavs who have a similar combination of strength, agility and shot making in their arsenal.

Katie Ebzery showed she can run the Flames on court last weekend and will now face off against fellow Opal Tessa Lavey at the point guard position as well and while Lavey has Amelia Todhunter for back-up, Laia Palau missed last week and does not look like making her debut for a couple more games at least.


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University of Canberra Capitals v Deakin Melbourne Boomers at National Convention Centre Sunday, 3.00pm (local time)

Finishing off Round 2, the Caps will host Melbourne with both teams playing their second game of the round.

It will be the Caps’ third home game in the opening fortnight of the season and they will be aiming to recreate their efforts from Round 1 after they christened the National Convention Centre with a double-victory.

Arguably the deepest roster in the competition, Canberra should not be fazed by playing their fourth game in two rounds and will look to Bass, Gaze and Magbegor to maintain the form of their starters.

Melbourne have some handy weaponry on the bench as well through Brittany Smart while Courtney Duever will be aiming to have more of an impact after playing just 12 minutes per game through Round 1.

They will need production from those players with a second straight double-header likely to push Cambage to her limits while Hooper and Scherf also have the size to make her job difficult.


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