January 10, 2024 | WNBL news

Written by Mark Alabakov



📆 Wednesday 10 Jan 2024

⏰ 5:00 pm AEDT

📍 Red Energy Arena

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Both of these teams had big wins only one game ago, then both hit hurdles late in round 10.

The Spirit, lead by a blistering first half by Ally Wilson, showed a commitment to pushing tempo at every opportunity – passing the basketball ahead and putting Townsville’s transition defense under stress.  This resulted in layups, post catches one metre from the hoop and baited the Fire into multiple fouls on shot attempts. Their commitment to this kept the game close for 3 quarters against the ladder leaders.

Froling continued her form for the Spirit with 13 points and 6 rebounds off the bench and Kraker added 11, getting to the rim when her 3pt shot wasn’t falling.

The Lightning were shell-shocked by Perth’s pressure defense and early on, allowed themselves to rush decisions, settle for lower percentage shots and play with hesitation till the margin blew out. Credit to them, they overcame that mindset in the second half and it turned into positive offensive runs built on belief, patience, and better shot selection – from which their confidence grew.

The emergence of Borlase continued as she had a monstrous 31 points, showing growth as her 24 shot attempts increased in quality and decision making as the game went on. Bourne continues to impress – shooting at a good clip and working for easy baskets in transition or off rebounds. The Lightning will need to find their way to the FT line more often however, as they only had 4 attempts to half time and finished with 10 total, but the game was over. Their opponents had 26 attempts in the same game and it’s discrepancies like this that push margins out to a level that is difficult to reel back in.

Adelaide can be a finals gate keeper, but will need to stay disciplined and reclaim their identity to trouble the Spirit. Bendigo’s finals goals are still in-play, their cause requires them to keep winning, and they’re hungry.

LOOK OUT FOR: The Spirit to overwhelm the Lightning with competitiveness. Griffin and Ally Wilson will lead from the front, then Froling and Kraker will enter and follow suit, Kelly Wilson will game manage when they need re-alignment and it’ll be too much for Adelaide.



📆 Wednesday 10 Jan 2024

7:30 pm AEDT

📍 Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville

📺 ESPN 2

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

You could see it in Coach Shannon Seebohm’s eyes and hear in his voice when asked about this upcoming game in his post match press conference last weekend. There’s wrongs to right and a frustrating loss to avenge.

The Fire lost to the Boomers by 20 a fortnight ago, playing without Sami Whitcomb and shooting an uncharacteristic 17% from the 3. The Boomers physical, possession play trio of Hillmon, Froling and Blicavs combined for 54 points and 27 rebounds between them to blanket the Fire, playing without star guard, Canada.

With Whitcomb and Canada back in their respective colors, the stage is set for 2 games between these teams in the round, which will ultimately decide the head to head between them, which could then impact ladder position if the 2nd placed Boomers can catch the Fire in 1st.

Townsville is a portrait of efficiency offensively. They routinely make good decisions, maximize time and space advantages and unselfishly make the extra pass if it means a shot attempt goes from good to great.

The Boomers have flagged needing to do some work defensively, performing better at that end last week against Sydney – holding their team to 55 points, former league MVP Cayla George to 7 and keeping easy Flames baskets to a minimum.

The Fire aren’t a team you can have any slippage against in your defensive pressure, communication and cooperation – because you pay on the scoreboard.

The Boomers have a lot to play for, chasing a top 2 spot and potential home final, which is a driver of energy … but they’ll have a Townsville team seething and motivated by their last game’s result standing opposite them.

LOOK OUT FOR: Townsville wanting to make a statement and doing so with a steely determination and resilience to weather each Melbourne run.




📆 Thursday 11 Jan 2024

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 National Convention Centre Canberra

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Confidence is a major part of elite sport.

You’re trying to gather as much of it as you can in real, tested circumstances, so that you can tap into it when it matters.

Canberra won 2 games earlier this season with outlier shooting performances against opponents less than full strength … until last round. To beat the Southside Flyers away from home, at full strength, with their 1000s of games of WNBL experience was nothing short of exceptional. 4 double digit scorers, out working the Flyers for 5 more offensive rebounds and then outrunning them for a combined 34 points off fast breaks and turnovers – this is the stuff real confidence is built from.

Perth enter the game with a solid win over Adelaide and face the task of trying to snatch as many wins as they can to try to qualify for finals and get star Aari McDonald healthy.

One way to do that is to make sure you beat teams below you on the ladder – but that’s easier said than done as the Caps will be full of zest for 4 quarters and will compete hard, indicative of a youthful group and the persona of their leader, Jade Melbourne.

The Lynx have found a better rhythm that allows their key players to be themselves without too much disruption, by elevating Ciabattoni to the starting lineup as their point guard. The effect it’s had has helped Goodchild, Atwell and Maley score double digit points in multiple game and created better delivery of the ball to Potter who was exceptional last round with 26 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.

These 2 teams typically have high scoring games against eachother in the 90s and 100s, with Perth getting an edge making the Caps pay on the scoreboard with points off turnovers and fast break scores after missed shots.

LOOK OUT FOR: Sharp VS Maley. Ranked 8th and 10th in points per game, and 3rd and 2nd in rebounds per game respectively – the contest between these 2 will be one to watch. It’s a little talked about narrative, but these 2 great athletes stories have been interwoven since they were kids – competing against one another locally and then  teaming up on state and national programs. They know eachother’s games well and share a mutual respect.




📆 Friday 12 Jan 2024

⏰ 7:30 pm AEDT

📍 State Basketball Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

4th VS 5th, 2 finals aspiring teams and 2 coaches who know each other and each other’s instincts more than the other realises. This will be a tactical battle and one where each coach will pre-empt one another’s moves and then anticipate their counter moves on the proverbial chessboard of the game.

That alone will keep the game close, but the unpredictability lies in what teams we get on the night.

Southside’s best is capable of beating anyone in a single game or in a finals series, with multiple players firing, the ball being shared and an efficient inside-outside game with all their offensive weapons. Their worst, however, is disjointed and reactive defensively and turns into individual efforts where their great players aim to take the responsibility of helping steer the ship back on course, at the expense of cohesive team play.

Sydney’s best has been excellent and looked like a cooperative unit, clear on their jobs and executed confidently, then sharing in each other’s successes – it’s why they’ve built their way from a slow start to being in the finals equation. Their worst has lacked assertiveness offensively and the ability to share the scoring load consistently, and then been compounded by being a step slow to contain defensively and a second late to box out and stem 2nd chance points, usually resulting in early foul trouble to key players.

The season is a marathon, not a sprint – but there are moments you have to sprint within it.  Locked at 7 wins apiece, this one is worth 2 wins to the victor. There’s plenty of time for both of these teams to push their ceiling higher, but most importantly raise their floor closer to the ceiling level for the elite consistency that finals will demand of them.

One of them needs to start that this week and give their finals case a big helping hand.

LOOK OUT FOR: The risk and impact of foul trouble. Sydney will have their hands full with the post combination of Russell and Jackson which will put foul pressure on Cayla George, who has had a difficult time keeping her foul count down and they’ll need her out on court. To the contrary, the Flyers will equally have their hands full against Lauren Nicholson and Tess Madgen where you’d expect Cole and Puoch to flip flop between those 2 match ups and be at risk of getting into foul trouble as both Nicholson’s and Madgen’s relentlessness puts them both in positions to draw contact, and the Flyers will need Cole’s influence and the X-factor that Puoch brings, on court and not on the bench with more fouls than what quarter the game is in.




📆 Saturday 13 Jan 2024

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Game 3 for these 2 teams in their head to head series, with whatever transpired in their earlier game in the round having an effect.

In a finals series-like situation with games close together, there will be adjustments made on both sides – often player match ups and selection of pick and roll defense being the first line of evaluation.

Games like this test 3 things :

  1. The skill depth and versatility of your individual players
  2. The in-built team solutions to different defenses
  3. The team culture to bounce back, or to hold strong and back up again

We’ll know more about both of these teams and the strength of their pending finals campaigns after this clash.

LOOK OUT FOR : A Sara Blicavs response. We’ve seen it a number of times this season – her veteran experience and understanding of the importance of the situation comes to the forefront and we see a more aggressive, attacking version of her lead the Boomers by example.




📆 Sunday 14 Jan 2024

⏰ 1:30 pm AEDT

📍 Qudos Bank Arena

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Only 2 wins separate them, but they both share the same finals goal. Mentioned earlier, the Lynx need to steal as many wins as they can till McDonald is back. Sydney is hunting the top 4 teams, had a cup of coffee IN the top 4 recently, and have slipped to 5th and gone back to being the hunter again.

Their obstacle is to score enough and/or keep Perth to a beatable scoreline.

In 2 previous games this season, the Lynx have won by 14 and 40, holding the Flames to 71 and 58 points respectively. In a 14 game sample size, the Flames average 69 points to Perth’s 86.

So, for the Flames, it’s likely to come mainly on the defensive end. In the last game of a head to head series, already won by the Lynx, expect to see something ‘funky’ or ‘new’ in the Flames strategy.

They’ll want to catch Perth by surprise and commit to something new that doesn’t take them out of their own rhythm to challenge the depth of problem solving of the Lynx in-game, with no time to prepare and without their high IQ point guard missing through injury.

Tess Madgen back in the Flames lineup helps with scoring and leadership too.

Perth will look to impose their high octane style again and try to ‘outscore’ the Flames, because if they get above 70 points – it could be difficult for Sydney to stretch their scoreboard much further.

LOOK OUT FOR: Something funky defensively or new offensively from the Flames. Coach Guy Molloy will see an opportunity where the result against Perth matters for the Flames finals pursuit and they can strategize to catch the underwomanned Lynx by surprise with something they haven’t planned for – without time to find a solution, or their usual point guard to problem solve on the run.




📆 Sunday 14 Jan 2024

⏰ 3:30 pm AEDT

📍 Red Energy Arena

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Much like the Perth/Canberra game earlier in the round, Bendigo is a team chasing finals action and will need to beat teams below them on the ladder to accumulate wins. If the Caps can beat Perth earlier in the round, they’ll be flying. If they lose, they’ll be challenged to find and sustain, in a matter of days, the same amount of endeavour that helped them beat the Flyers, to trouble the Spirit.

Bendigo can draw confidence from having a potential win against Adelaide earlier in the round themselves, even though these teams haven’t played eachother yet this WNBL season.

Statistically, the Spirit and Caps match up similarly for most categories – but the notable difference numerically and visually is bench depth.

Bendigo has scored 35% more bench points than the Caps this season and has that has allowed the Spirit to rotate deeply all season with their experience and ability to get on the scoreboard.

Alicia Froling is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds off the bench and providing impact as a pick and roll post, an offensive rebounder and floor runner on fast breaks.

Abbey Wehrung is 2nd in made 3pt shots for the team and has had games where she has lit it up from range and been the reason the Spirit have held on when challenged.

Not to mention the physicality of Casey Samuels who averages 7 points, 3 rebounds and relishes changing the game with hustle play.

LOOK OUT FOR: The bench production and impact playing a factor to separate the teams and, in small runs throughout, pushing the control of the game in the Spirit’s favour.



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