January 16, 2024 | WNBL news

Written by Mark Alabakov



📆 Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

⏰ 3:00 pm AEDT

📍 Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Huge game for both teams. Expect Bendigo to be motivated and full of belief after putting away the 7th placed Capitals last week. Lead by the incomparable Kelsey Griffin, who single-handedly steps up in times of need and wills her team into contention, the Spirit’s equation is simple, win. Lose 2 more games and it’s season over. Many teams produce their best work when their backs are against the wall – and this is their chance.

For the Flyers, they have 2 games in hand compared to the other teams in the top 5 in the short term, with the ability to move back into 2nd place, or drop out of the top 4 pending other results.

Lauren Jackson was a focal point last round against the Flames, with 28 points and shooting almost as many free throws as the entire Sydney team. Russell and Mitchell were the only 2 other double digit scorers, but it was enough on the night to get the win.

Against the Spirit, however, expect Jackson to be tested both in keeping up her scoring rate and defensively.

The Spirit match up with Southside’s size as good as any team in the league and have a number of match up options for Jackson – Griffin for her agility and possession play, Froling for her physicality and length and Davis for her physical size.

Couple this with the fact that the Spirit will routinely put Jackson in pick and rolls to beat her with speed, then anticipate help from a Flyers teammate – and then use the time and space advantages created to keep the Flyers chasing and rotating, a step behind, the whole time Jackson is on court. Ally Wilson can have a match winning role, as a playmaker, in sequences like this.

LOOK OUT FOR : Perimeter shooting to be the difference. Both teams have shot makers from downtown, the one who plays inside-out, creates 3s with time and space and hits them will win.



📆 Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 Quaycentre


🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Sydney’s rubber is hitting the road at the right time.  They executed their game plan against the Flyers and went within a whisker of knocking them off

For Adelaide it’s all about their mentality now.  To reclaim their mojo, they need to put together 4 quarters of fight. When they play hard, smart and, most importantly together – they’ve been able to hang with good teams, and they have some weapons to go to. Basham stepped up and had 13 points on 6/11 shooting which is a bright spot, however last round the Lightning starters combined for 7 total assists to Bendigo’s starters connecting for 27.

The challenge for Adelaide is not to lose discipline or intent – against the Spirit they had almost as many total points and total rebounds, and the exact same amount of assists and steals in the second quarter of the game as they did for the entire second half, third and fourth quarters combined. They can, need to, and will be better.

But will it be enough against a Sydney team, powered by an emotional Pink Round win, who is chasing a greater goal of trying to lock in post season play ?

LOOK OUT FOR : The reigning league MVP, George to be the separator on the offensive end, supported by a lockdown defensive performance by Richards on Willoughby and Nicholson on Borlase, holding them to less than 20 points combined.




📆 Friday 19 Jan 2024

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 Quaycentre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Speaking of rubber hitting the road, expect the wheels to be turning comfortably in this one, a small speed hump delivered by the Caps athleticism, then the Flames continuing on to their second win for the round.

Last round, Sydney had 21 assists in each game played, meaning they’re getting more in sync with one another and creating for their teammates to shoot shots they can hit – culminating in 4 double digit scorers against Perth, notably Cayla George with 28 and cameo contributions from Richards and Bradley.

The Flames will likely employ an aggressive pick and roll defensive scheme to encourage Jade Melbourne to give the ball up early in possessions or re-route her path away from the hoop with the ball and trust their players to rotate to shut down advantages behind that. The Caps 3pt shooting is currently middle of the WNBL pack, but they are coming off a 26% effort from downtown against the Spirit and have made only 7 3pt shots in 2 of their last 3 games.

For the Caps to trouble the Flames, they would need to be ready to give them different defensive looks, tilting to the aggressive and disruptive side, then to quote WNBL commentator Liam Ellison ‘turn defense into offense’ and score close to 1/3rd of their team’s scoreline in fast break points, then couple that with one of their games where they hit an outlier amount of 3pt shots of 11+, which they’ve done only 3 times in 14 games. Not impossible, given the Flames are in the bottom half of the league for field goal and 3pt defense – but a challenge nonetheless.

LOOK OUT FOR : Cayla George to back up her last game with another driven and motivated effort, this time supported by the veteran smarts and game management of Tess Madgen. This will come out in her individual playmaking and what actions she calls for that will involve her and George, or Nicholson and George in strategic situations for them to be successful.




📆 Saturday 20 Jan 2024

⏰ 6:30 pm AEST

📍 Townsville Entertainment Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

Reeling after yet another large margin loss to the Boomers, expect Townsville to bounce back hard.

Whitcomb will be in ‘refuse to lose’ mode, Ruef will have something to prove after only scoring 5 points in the past 2 games combined, Reid will be driven to steer the team back on course and Aokuso won’t be impacted by fatigue in a stand alone game for the round, which will allow her to be the pick and roll target and post scorer they need for offensive balance.

The Lightning may be encountering the Fire at the worst possible time, but they’ll draw confidence from the fact that anything can happen in the WNBL. A positive lies in both the the reliability and consistency of the unsung Bourne, and the emergence of Brazel, Tonks and Basham delivering scoring punch in recent weeks, with each having games of scoring outputs in the teens within their last 3 games.

This is the last time Adelaide play Townsville for the season, giving themselves one last opportunity to bring their best effort to the table against the reigning champions and the competition’s measuring stick.

LOOK OUT FOR: Townsville once again in the role of the ‘poked bear’. They’ll be ominous from the start and will overwhelm Adelaide from their first attempt at resistance with pace, physicality, intent and multiple efforts.




📆 Saturday 20 Jan 2024

⏰ 6:30 pm AWST

📍 Bendat Basketball Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

A lot rides on this one – both of these teams are chasing 12 wins that history suggests is needed to qualify for finals in the WNBL, with the leg up of a season series.

Perth was at full strength with Aari McDonald in lineup and won their first hit out earlier this season, however both team play eachother twice more to round out their regular season campaigns and both the win and the head-to-head split between them is crucial.

Even with McDonald’s absence, the Lynx have the firepower to go with any team on the scoreboard, the weekly challenge to overcome for them is execution and game management on the floor either by one player, or by committee to steer them to validate 35 minutes of work into 5 minutes of making the right moves to secure a win. Unfortunately they’ve been close, but haven’t yet landed on the mix that has been the solution.

Should Perth win, they will be on 10 wins and have the season split on the Spirit, all but assuring post season play. This result would also impact the Spirit’s playoff hopes as they will have lost the season split to the Lynx and Flyers and be behind them in wins.

To the contrary, should the Spirit win, they would be a step closer to the top 4 on wins, with season split deciding games against Melbourne and Sydney to come – hoping for some other results to go their way, but knowing they’ve done their bit to give themselves a chance.

The Spirit’s Kelsey Griffin is one of the few athletes in the competition that a team can jump on the back of to sprint to a finish line and do whatever is needed to get the end result. The combination of her and Kelly Wilson in the starting lineup and for longer stretches on court together is proving to be the handful for opponents that we’ve seen them team up to be, at different stops, for over a decade now. They have championship chemistry that has revitalised the Spirit’s late season push.

LOOK OUT FOR : The battle of the bigs. Potter VS the combination of Davis and Froling. Can they each stay out of foul trouble and be on the court long enough to impact the game ? The Spirit have back up post players comfortable operating in the key, Perth don’t.



📆 Sunday 21 Jan 2024

⏰ 3:00 pm AEDT

📍 Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube


The gift and curse of having a team with as much star-studded individual talent as the Flyers is making the pieces fit and play together, for long periods, and especially when it’s winning time.

The Boomers had the best team defensive performance of the season last round against the Fire and were exceptional in shutting down time and space advantages of the most efficient offense in the competition.

They’ll be aiming to do the same in this game, aiming to turn the Flyers offense into a series of individual efforts that they can defend as a team to stop.

The added benefit to the Boomers is that a job well done here gives them a steady diet of fast break opportunities – and fast break teams like Perth, the Caps and Lightning have all given Southside headaches. Melbourne got some real profit out of early post touches in transition or early in the offense which puts them in high percentage scoring territory and forces an urgency from the defense that makes them susceptible to fouling.

For the Flyers, they’ll need to execute well as a team to create open shots that aren’t forced, then support those with rebounding attempts and organizing their defense in preparation for Melbourne’s attack.

Southside had a patch of games only a few short weeks ago where they spiked in assists to lead the league – if they get back to that style, they have enough to overcome Melbourne. If they don’t, the Boomers will be in the box seat.

LOOK OUT FOR: Another disciplined, gritty and resilient Boomers performance on the defensive end.



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