Batkovic excited by Fire’s depth

September 8, 2017 | Townsville Fire news

Five-time WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic believes the JCU Townsville Fire’s depth could well be the key to unlocking a third title in four years after the opening week of pre-season.

With the Fire grinding away on the practice court, Batkovic, who was the catalyst behind the Fire’s back-to-back championship wins in 2014/15 and 2015/16, was upbeat about the side’s chances, with a mix of returning faces and new stars capturing her attention.

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While Cayla George and Sydney Wiese remain in the U.S participating in the WNBA play-offs, the Fire’s new-look squad has been pacing themselves at Townsville Stadium, with the skipper pleasantly surprised by the intensity on the track.

“Because it is such a condensed season, you don’t have time to build on your fitness as the season progresses,” Batkovic said.

“For us, it’s doing the work right now and making sure we’re coming in in better shape than what we have in the past, and making pre-season a little bit easier four ourselves, but also as a unit to be flowing earlier because it is such an early turn around.

“You don’t want to be worry about fitness – that’s one of the last things you want to be worrying about – you just want to have that and progress as a unit.”

Having spent the off-season playing in Newcastle, Batkovic has returned to the Fire for her sixth season with the club and is desperate to capture a fifth WNBL title.

While much of the Fire’s offence will flow through championship-winning stars Micaela Cocks and Mia Murray, the triple Olympian has been taken with the first-up showings from Laurin Mincy and Mikhalea Donnelly.

“We definitely run deeper than what we have in the past fair few years,” Batkovic said.

“There’s Laurin Mincy, who has come in and I think that she is finding her feet, but she’s shown some real good glimpses of what she’s capable of.

“She’s a fantastic driver but she can really shoot the ball. And you can tell she has that athleticism and toughness.

“Another one for me is Mikhalea Donnelly – I’ve never seen her play – but she’s just come back from a baby and you wouldn’t be able to tell.

“She’s in tremendous shape, she sees the floor so well, she’s not a selfish player, she’s just an all-round good, little player.”

The Fire face Perth in two pre-season fixtures on September 22 and 23 as part of the Wilmar Sugar Burdekin Blitz before tipping-off against Melbourne on October 7.

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