November 6, 2023 | Townsville Fire news

Zitina Aokuso scored a game high 20 points as the Fire began its WNBL champions defence with a 93-80 win over the Spirit in Bendigo. The centre’s determined to deliver similar showings regularly during Townsville tilt for back titles. The 24 year old who doesn’t doubt her ability, is now also confident in her body, having already overcome multiple long time injuries while wearing the orange.

“It feels amazing not to be coming into a season injured or with any niggles, I think Brent our strength and conditioning coach has done a great job with all my rehabs and my physio programs and making sure I’m healthy, and yeah I’m very happy with it.”

A pair of triples took the opposition by surprise and shooting from the perimeter is something Z has been encouraged to do more of.

“Yeah I’ve got the green light to shoot some open threes and I took my chances.”

The big’s bread and butter is much closer to the rim, and slick service from Steph Reid and Sami Whitcomb, who delivered 9 assists between them, presented her with some simple tasks.

“Absolutely, I could get used to some easy buckets. Yeah playing with Sami and Steph they’re really good guards and I just always have to have my hands up and catch the ball because who knows when I’m going to get it from them.”

The coach loved what he saw, especially with Shannon Seebohm still trying to find a front court replacement for the club’s reigning MVP Tianna Hawkins, who dominated inside last season.

“So now without Tianna, to See Zitina step up and play a big role I think that will give her a lot of confidence and now the key thing for her is going to be being consistent and giving us that output every game.”

Mikaela Ruef recorded a double double, dragging down 10 rebounds and dropping 16 points, while fellow starters Reid, Whitcomb and Alcie Kunek contributed 13, 18 and 15 points respectively.

Townsville hit a buzzer beater to take a narrow lead into quarter time, despite the Spirit starting the game on a 9 and zero run.  The margin grew as the contest progressed. While pleased with his side’s seventeen straight victory, Seebohm’s anticipating an improved performance at the Fire Pit, against Southside in round 2.

“I think we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did, definitely a lot more consistent, but really positive and it’s a great sign.”

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