ROUND 8 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) will be yet another big one with Southside Flyers looking to continue their hot form and keep their margin out in front with the Melbourne Boomers hot on their tail in terms of ladder position. Meanwhile up the other end Townsville Fire will be hoping to reverse their recent form and get a win on the board.
Bendigo Spirit vs University of Canberra Capitals
After a close Friday night loss for the Bendigo Spirit, now pushing their losing streak to five, Kelly Wilson and the Spirits are hoping to turn things around against the firing Canberra Capitals who are coming off an impressive four game win streak. But this game might not be as won and done as the WNBL ladder might suggest with the Capitals well aware that the Bendigo Spirit give their all and are no easy task to take down. This will be a memorable game for the Capitals as they get to go up against their championship point guard from last season, Wilson. Former school teacher and WNBL legend played for the Canberra Capitals for a historic six seasons and will be familiar with the Capitals playbook and style leading to exciting matchup.
The Spirit will be looking to the likes of Wilson along with Marte Grays to lead the way in attack and hit the scoreboard while Abigail Wehrung can also have an impact when on court thanks to her accuracy from the three-point range. But the Capitals are just as littered with key players across the court in the likes of Kia Nurse who has had no issue finding the net and is their leading points scorer. Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling are also instrumental across the court able to get back defensively and attack the scoreboard with their exciting style of play.
Adelaide Lighting vs Perth Lynx
Both teams are coming off a loss to the Southside flyers, meaning the clash between Adelaide Lighting and Perth Lynx will be an incredibly competitive match up on Friday night. Both teams have lost three of the last five matches, and are sitting next to each other on the ladder in third and fourth spot respectively. They have most productive scorers in the entire league in Crystal Langhorne (Adelaide Lighting) and Alison Schwagmeyer (Perth Lynx), making for a must watch game. While the Lynx were to say at the least embarrassed by the Flyers, as opposed to the close ending between the Lighting and Flyers, the Lynx were coming off two games the previous round and will definitely be well rested for this cut throat game.
Everyone will be watching the matchup at the forward position between Schwagmeyer and Kathyrn Westbeld who only recently joined Adelaide. It will be interesting to watch if Westbeld can clamp Belger and hold her to single digits like she has done to many other WNBL superstars. However the Perth Lynx are more than competent in the defensive end, holding the top two players in blocks per game in Imani McGee-Stafford (2.3 BPG) and Maddison Allen (2.2 BPG). These twin towers will make it difficult for Langhorne to get to the basket, but may struggle to stop her as she is an elite three-point shooter who is yet to miss a single three this season. Additionally, Stephanie Talbot could have another great game as she is coming off a 25 points, two assists, eight rebound night.
Southside Flyers vs Melbourne Boomers
Although it is still early in the season, the urgency and importance of getting a ‘W’ after this clash is fully understood by both teams because this just might be a preview of the grand final. Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers, both sit first and second on the ladder and the rivalry will once again be ignited with no fan certain of the outcome given the closeness and similarity of both sides. These two juggernauts have met before, in Round 4 in Dandenong with Southside coming out on top by just seven points. To make that more impressive, they did this coming off a back to back round.
However while Southside have five players averaging over 13 points a game, they still lack depth, something Guy Mollow, coach of the Melbourne Boomers, can exploit. The last time these two teams battled, the Flyers only had six players to put points on the board. While this is definitely not worth panicking over, as they do hover at the top of the WNBL ladder with only one loss, come finals, what can be seen as trivial factors can be the exact one percenters that cost them the win or loss. Being a two time WNBL coach of the year, it will be interesting seeing what adjustments Mollow makes to exhaust the Flyers main players, forcing them to rely more heavily on their less offensively gifted bench. Mercedes Russell is a scoring machine for the Flyers along with Rebecca Cole and Leilani Mitchell who are both known for their prolific shooting. But the Boomers are not to be out done with the likes of Cayla George and Lindsay Allen forming a damaging duo.
Sydney Uni Flames vs Adelaide Lighting
Coming off their second game of Round 8, the Adelaide Lighting are set to host the Sydney Uni Flames in what will be an exciting contest. With just one spot between the two with the Lighting at the fourth seed and the Flames at the sixth, and now halfway through the WNBL season, every game matters in terms of finals and this is no different. Both teams have been on rocky roads recently, winning two of their last five match ups and are hoping to turn things around against similarly talented competition. Having already played in the very first match to commence the 2020 WNBL season, obviously the two teams are now much different having improved in different ways. But the main takeaway from that game was clearly Lauren Schref pulling down a whopping 17 rebounds along with Colleen Planeta dropping 30 points, both for the Uni Flames, yet their commendable efforts still did not result in the win.
However this game is too far back to be used as data to predict a winner as the Uni Flames are not reliant on these two players dropping figures like that to win (although it does not hurt). Instead the Flames are reliant on being a high volume, high percentage shooting team. Similarly, the Adelaide Lighting are counting on shooting a lot of two point shots, close to the paint. This is mostly due to Langhorne leading the league in rebounds and second in points with dynamic duo partner Nicole Seekamp dishing the rock and leading the league in assists.
Townsville Fire v. Bendigo Spirit
In a bottom of the ladder clash the Townsville Fire will be hoping to improve their season and get another win on the board while in their second game of the round, the Spirit will be aiming to make it two from two and put their opponents away early. Both sides have been relatively inconsistent but have shown that they can match it with the best pushing sides to their limit making for an enthralling match-up. Both sides are relatively even across the court but given it is the second game of the round for Bendigo, Townsville should try and capitalise on their fatigue and pile the pressure on.
The Fire will be looking to the likes of Abby Bishop to lead the way thanks to her ability to find the basket with ease and cause havoc from anywhere across the court. Tess Madgen is also another crucial member for Townsville able to hit the scoreboard as well as dish off crafty assists thanks to her vision and general basketball nous. Darcee Garbin is another one that can hit the scoreboard while also being able to do the defensive things well in particular her rebounding ability. For the Spirit their second tier players will have to lift their game to help out the likes of Wilson and Carley Ernst.
Melbourne Boomers v. Perth Lynx
This game will bring plenty of excitement with the second placed Boomers playing host to the fifth placed Perth Lynx who will be hopping to leapfrog up the ladder and stay in contention for a top four spot. The Boomers have only lost two games for the season compared to Lynx who have dropped six showcasing Melbourne’s ability to prevail in close contests. Both teams will be faced with their second game of the round making it imperative for each side to make the most of their chances when pushing forward.
The Boomers have a plethora of players that can stand up under pressure when the heat is on, especially scoring machine Allen, but youngster Ezi Magbegor is an exciting prospect. Magbegor oozes class thanks to her point scoring ability and strength defensively to pick up the rebound. Monique Conti is another one that is renowned for her ability to pop and have an impact while Madeleine Garrick is accurate from three-point region. Perth’s Schwagmeyer is their most influential player often touted as the barometer and will have to have a big one if her side is to get over the line against the second placed Boomers. Katie Ebzery is a prolific points scorer working in tandem with Schwagmeyer while Ariel Atkins is handy off the bench.