Game Preview: Cross-town rivals go head-to-head in huge clash
The stage appears set for title favourites Jayco Southside Flyers to exact sweet revenge on fierce rivals Deakin Melbourne Boomers in a clash that may yet be a 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL grand final preview.
The Flyers will line up against the Boomers at Cairns Pop-Up Arena on Sunday without dual Olympian Rachel Jarry after the veteran forward injured her knee in their last start 39-point win over Adelaide Lightning.
But Flyers coach Cheryl Chambers is confident she still has enough firepower to threaten an in-form Boomers outfit as they look to avenge their surprise November 14 loss to their nemesis.
Chemist Warehouse Opals superstar Liz Cambage has been typically devastating while on court for the Flyers, averaging a league best 23 points per game.
Yet the Southside juggernaut has continued to roll on even when Cambage is resting on the bench, thanks to their Opals stars Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs and Leilani Mitchell.
As a result, the Flyers (8-2 record) have lived up to their early billing as title favourites by powering to four straight wins.
“I think we have a lot of weapons. We are starting to gel. I think we are heading in the right direction,” Chambers said.
The Flyers mentor said her side had come a long way since last month’s loss to the Boomers and believed what was expected to be a feisty clash would be a timely yardstick ahead of the finals.
The Boomers have been just as impressive as the Flyers, cruising to a 6-2 record with three straight victories ahead of Saturday’s clash with Villawood Properties Bendigo Spirit.
“Hopefully we have learned a lot from that (last month’s loss) but they (Boomers) look like they have a bit of a spring in their step,” Chambers said.
“They are a well organised, physical team so I think the game should be a cracker.
“They (Boomers) are putting their hand up to win the title. It will be great to see where we are at.
“Änd we have the added value of the Victorian rivalry. We are friends off the court but once that ball is up it is game on.”
Former Opal and WNBL championship winner Jarry had played a key role off the bench this season but Chambers was confident they had enough depth to cover her absence.
“The scans have come back clear with no ligament damage, but it is wait and see to be honest,” Chambers said of Jarry’s recovery.
“It is a day by day situation. We will assess it. We don’t know how it will respond.”
The Boomers – boasting Opals stars Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Tess Madgen – have moved into ominous form after an early season hiccup in which they dropped two straight to be relegated to a 3-2 record.
“To other teams’ credit they put us in scenarios we weren’t comfortable with (earlier in season) and it has taken us a bit of time to get to a point where we can navigate away from those,” Boomers assistant Paul Flynn said.
Laine Clark is a freelance contributor to WNBL.basketball
Jayco Southside Flyers v Deakin Melbourne Boomers
At Cairns Pop-Up Arena
Sunday 6 December 2020
2.00pm AEST / 3.00pm AEDT
LIVE on Fox Sports Ch 507, Kayo and the ABC primary channel plus ABC iview