December 5, 2019 | WNBL news

#WNBL20 Round 8 Preview

Superstar Kelsey Griffin has heaped praise on one of her championship team mates as the UC Capitals continue to build on their #WNBL20 winning streak.

Kia Nurse was in a moonboot last Friday after hurting her ankle at training but a little over 24 hours later she bounced off the bench and was a spark with 24 points as the Caps downed Townsville Fire.

“She scared me really bad. Kia is pretty tough, when she hurt herself at practice I was worried and thinking we’d be lucky if she came back after Christmas,’’ Griffin said.

“But all of a sudden she was shooting some shots in shoot around and I was like ‘oh hey, where’s this come from?’

“The physio strapped her up and she was right to go. Really fortunate but it also speaks about Kia as a professional, she really wants us to win and it’s exciting when you have imports who come in, buy in and care so much about winning and the product they put on the floor.

“I really appreciate that about Kia and her competitive spirit.”

Griffin, Nurse and the Caps are on their way to regional Victoria on Friday night to face Bendigo Spirit (2-7) in Ballarat.

FRIDAY

Bendigo Spirit v UC Capitals. Ballarat Stadium, 7pm*

Ballarat has produced 2 of the greatest WNBL players in Robyn Maher and Allison Tranquilli (Cook) and 2 of their newest exports, Abigail Wehrung and Kasey Burton who suit up for the Bendigo Spirit in their home town.

The Spirit missed Wehrung dearly last week and continue to strive for consistency after feeling like they let a win slip against Sydney. Tessa Lavey’s performance against the Flames was a great sign for Bendigo who need more score power from the Opal plus the likes of Kelly Wilson and Becca Tobin.

The Caps are humming and showed plenty of character overcoming a gutsy Townsville last week.

Watch via Livestream on the WNBL website.

Adelaide Lightning v Perth Lynx. Titanium Security Arena, 7pm*

Lots on the line in Adelaide for these 2 sides and what shapes, at Round 8, as a mini final of sorts.

Import forward Kathryn Westbeld was promising on debut last round and can keep building on her 16-point first-outing. Steph Talbot’s last quarter was as tough as it comes, Brianna Turner was unusually quiet but expect her to bounce back in style. Adelaide’s chances do rest heavily on the availability of captain Nicole Seekamp who’s battling a quad injury.

Perth will travel with Imani McGee-Stafford this round and have everything crossed she will be passed fit to play, her inclusion literally huge for the up-and-down Lynx.

It’s a defining weekend for the team from the West with Alison Schwagmeyer-Belger and Co-Captains Katie-Rae Ebzery and Lauren Mansfield primed for big games.

Watch via Livestream on the WNBL website. 

SATURDAY

Southside Flyers v Melbourne Boomers. Dandenong Stadium, 7pm*

Last time these arch rivals met both were undefeated and it was the Flyers who kept their perfect record intact. A month later and Southside and Melbourne remain at the top of the ladder and this contest promises to be a cracker.

Mercedes Russell was game MVP back in Round 4 and has only got better at both ends. She was Southside’s star last weekend earning Player of the Week honours and will be pivotal up against Opals Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor.

The point guard match-up between Leilani Mitchell and Lindsay Allen promises plenty plus Maddie Garrick worked her way into form against Sydney last week and will be keen to back it up.

Watch via Livestream on the WNBL website.

SUNDAY

Sydney Uni Flames v Adelaide Lightning. Qudos Bank Arena, 2.30pm*

Katrina Hibbert’s side have their eyes firmly on an upset here, and having downed Canberra earlier in the season, know their best 4 quarters of basketball is good enough to beat any side in the top four.

Sydney hope to be bolstered by the return of point guard Tahlia Tupaea who the Flames have desperately missed and while she can organise her side and score heavily her inclusion will also free up Ally Wilson who been clocking the full 40 minutes.

Adelaide’s depth might be tested, but is capable of passing with flying colours, should Seekamp sit out the weekend.

Watch via Livestream on the WNBL website.

Townsville Fire v Bendigo Spirit. Townsville Stadium, 3pm*

The Fire failed to get the win last week but will take self-belief out of their effort against an on-song Caps.

Townsville will be without skipper Micaela Cocks (shoulder) who will miss her first WNBL game since debuting in 2011.

Julie Vanloo returns to the starting 5 in her skipper’s absence and should be full of confidence after a 20-point game against the Capitals and a few of her massive trademark triples.

Abby Bishop is having a campaign to remember and goes head-to-head with Becca Tobin in what looms as a fascinating duel.

Melbourne Boomers v Perth Lynx. State Basketball Centre, 5pm*

The second leg of a big Round 8 for both teams. Perth has an extra day’s rest but travel from SA, the Boomers, meantime, back-up less than 24 hours after the local derby.

The Lynx have been forced to go smaller with McGee-Stafford in a moonboot for weeks on end but her return would strengthen the visitors’ chances with George and Magbegor both in consistent touch.

It’s worth heading to the State Basketball Centre or turning on Fox Sports purely to watch some of the best guards in the competition go head-to-head.

Watch via FOX Sports Australia.

 

*All times listed are local