ROUND THREE PREVIEW
ROUND 3 PREVIEW
Broadcast Game of the Week
JCU Townsville Fire v Brydens Sydney Uni Flames at Townsville Stadium, Saturday, 2.00pm (local time)
An injury-plagued Flames team will have to dig deep against the reigning Champions on Saturday afternoon as they are likely to be playing without a few key pieces.
The only team without a win this season, Sydney Uni will be missing veteran Belinda Snell with a calf injury, whose leadership was sorely missed last weekend in a close loss to Melbourne and starting point guard Tahlia Tupaea (concussion).
Their leading scorer and rebounder, Alex Bunton’s health is also a concern after she went off hobbling last game but the centre did return to the court in what is hopefully a positive sign for the Flames.
If Bunton is not at 100% though, she will struggle to go up against Suzy Batkovic who currently sits second in the league for scoring (20.7 points per game), first for rebounds (11.3) and is also averaging a block.
Townsville were able to get the better of Adelaide in Round 2, utilising a 23-14 final term to win by ten points and get their first victory, saving themselves from an 0-3 record which would have placed them equal with Sydney Uni.
The Fire began the 2017/18 season with a 2-2 record so they will not be concerned about their start but this does shape as a must-win game as the Flames enter the contest with a depleted roster.
Stella Beck is expected to make her debut and Casey Samuels will be looking to make a statement against her old side.
She has started her Townsville career very promisingly, averaging 8.7 points, 6.3 boards and 1.3 assists which are all career-high’s at this early stage of the season.
Watch: FOX Sports Australia channel 505 and SBS.
Perth Lynx v Bendigo Bank Spirit at Bendat Basketball Stadium, Friday, 6.30pm (local time)
There were concerns for the Lynx after their Round 1 loss that they did not have the firepower to compete in the absence of Sami Whitcomb but they put those worries to bed instantly last weekend against Townsville.
The Lynx scored a league-high for the season with 98 points, hitting 15 three-pointers as a team and shooting 46% from the field while Brittany McPhee exploded for 32 points.
Bendigo’s defence will certainly be tested but they will be confident in maintaining their league-best D which has seen them surrender just 69 points per game to keep them undefeated.
The home side will have to find someone to keep Becca Tobin quiet after she was named to her second straight Team of the Week but Asia Taylor is always up for a fight and could make life difficult for the import centre.
Seven-time WNBL Champion Nat Hurst will also celebrate her 250th game on Friday night. While only three of those games have occurred in a Bendigo uniform, Hurst has fitted in nicely with the team as she is averaging 15 points and 2.5 assists per game, shooting 6-10 from beyond the arc.
University of Canberra Capitals v Deakin Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, Friday, 7.00pm (local time)
These teams meet again for the second time in a week after the Caps helped extend their winning streak to three with a 72-65 victory last Friday night.
Melbourne have been slow starters in every contest so far this season and fell behind by 17 points at half-time against the Caps before getting as close as five points late.
Kelsey Griffin proved too good though, recording 24 points and 15 rebounds while Kelly Wilson played all 40 minutes for ten points and eight assists.
She will not have to do as much heavy lifting this weekend as Leilani Mitchell is now with the team and the Olympian played 29 minutes in her debut last weekend off the bench.
Their combination will make Lindsay Allen’s job a lot tougher with a player like Steph Talbot crucial in keeping that tandem quiet but with the Caps now seeing their roster come together, the league is on notice.
Jayco Rangers v Perth Lynx at Dandenong Stadium, Sunday, 3.00pm (local time)
It’s been a relatively easy start to the season for the Lynx with two games in two weeks but they face their first double-header in Round 3 as they back up from Friday night on the road against Dandenong on Sunday.
The Rangers will not have played in a week as they recover from their first loss of the season and getting Perth on their first road trip for 2018/19 gives them a chance to bounce back quickly.
They will also be celebrating Think Pink round in support of breast cancer sufferers.
Betnijah Laney was a late pick-up for the Rangers but has been outstanding in all areas of the floor with 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Her toughness has also been a critical piece of the puzzle for Dandenong who are lacking some size in the front court but that has allowed them to be a strong transition team with Tessa Lavey, Bec Cole and Amelia Todhunter delighting on the fast break.
That should ensure an up-tempo game against the Lynx as they match their speed against Perth’s hot shooting.
Adelaide Lightning v Bendigo Bank Spirit at Titanium Security Arena, Sunday, 3.00pm (local time)
The second leg of the ‘Doomsday Double’ will be the real test for Bendigo after they have surprised many in the league with a 2-0 start to the season.
They will visit Adelaide after taking on Perth on Friday night and the Lightning will have had a week’s break since their disappointing second round which saw them drop consecutive games to Townsville and the Caps.
Within striking distance in both contests, Adelaide were out-scored by a total of 16 points in the fourth quarter across the two games.
It will be interesting to see how that form compares to the Spirit who could be fatigued down the stretch on Sunday afternoon and the home side will look to expose that with their transition game courtesy of Lauren Nicholson and Steph Blicavs.
They tried Penina Davidson in a starting role last weekend but whether it is her or Colleen Planeta, they will have their hands full in containing Tobin who has proven to be a weapon at both ends of the floor.
Free entry is being offered by Adelaide which will hopefully also see a big crowd get behind the team as they aim to get back on track.