SUZY Batkovic has kicked off Round 8 with a record-breaking moment, becoming the Women’s National Basketball League’s (WNBL) all-time leading scorer with 5824 points. Her side comprehensively defeated the Spirit by 42 points, in one of the Fire’s best performances of the season. They will next face last year’s Grand Final opponents, the Melbourne Boomers, next with a host of other great match-ups to follow across the round.
Dandenong Rangers v Adelaide Lightning
Friday 30 November, 7pm at Dandenong Stadium
Key match-up: Rebecca Cole v Lauren Nicholson
Cole has been an absolute standout for the Rangers this season, while Nicholson is finding some nice form. Cole averages 14.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, highlighting her consistency in all areas of the court. Despite Cole catching more of the headlines, Nicholson is not actually that far off Cole in terms of the stat sheet, averaging 13 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Expect these players to go toe-to-toe in this game.
Season so far: Adelaide has been disappointing this season and with news that the side faces extinction, every game is an absolute must-win. The Lightning currently sit seventh, having lost their last three games, totalling to one win out of their last five encounters. Dandenong sits one spot above them on the ladder, winning three out of its last five games. While it was expected that the Rangers weren’t going to have the best run this season, they have a big chance to redeem themselves at their home court.
The game: With both sides having their fair share of form slumps, a big win will be on their minds. Expect a high-scoring game with plenty of close match-ups. Nia Coffey will need to be stopped under the ring by Dandenong while the Lightning will be hoping to minimise Kayla Pedersen’s influence.
Perth Lynx v UC Capitals
Friday 30 November, 6.30pm at Bendat Basketball Centre
Key match-up: Brittany McPhee v Kelly Wilson
Both players are offensive beasts who know how to rack up the points. McPhee is averaging a whopping 17.1 points per game, but what sets her apart is her rebounding ability. As a guard, she is averaging 6.9 rebounds per game, which has been a big part of McPhee’s dominance for Perth. Wilson on the other hand has the ability to get others involved in the game, averaging 6.0 assists per game. She can often go unnoticed, so McPhee will have to step up her defensive game to nullify her influence.
Season so far: Perth has a near-perfect record, with seven wins and two losses this season. The Lynx have the ability to win consecutive games and win them convincingly, highlighted by their 46-point belting of Sydney last week. However, their opponent is not very far off, with the Capitals sitting second with six wins and two losses. They have won three out of their last five games.
The game: It’s a bumper first versus second clash, with the Lynx playing host. The Lynx are an offensive powerhouse while the Capitals can grind out some gritty wins. If the game gets close, the Capitals could have the upper hand, but if the Lynx get off to a good start, it will be extremely difficult to stop them.
Melbourne Boomers v Townsville Fire
Saturday 1 December, 3pm at State Basketball Centre
Key match-up: Cayla George v Suzy Batkovic
Both players can deliver on the big stage and have big moments, with Batkovic showing that on Friday night. Her 24 points, 12 rebounds and three assists propelled her to the top of the WNBL all-time leading scorers list, making her the competition’s player to watch right now. George will need to dominate under the paint to stop Batkovic’s influence, and is doing well so far, averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. Although she can turn it on with her shooting, she may need to play a more defensive role to ensure that Batkovic’s massive influence does not continue.
Season so far: The Boomers are looking like one of the championship favourites, with eight wins and four losses for the season. Meanwhile, the Fire are sitting fifth on the table with five wins and five losses. They just had their most comprehensive win of the year on Friday night, and have won three out of their last five games.
The game: If the Melbourne Boomers take control of this game, it could be very high-scoring, especially with Lindsay Allen in scintillating form. Cayla George and Steph Talbot can also attack the ring hard. Townsville will be on a high after its big Friday night win, but will need second-tier players such as Zitina Aokuso to step up to assist the likes of Suzy Batkovic and Micaela Cocks.
Sydney Uni Flames v Bendigo Spirit
Saturday 1 December, 5pm at Brydens Stadium
Key match-up: Belinda Snell v Nat Hurst
These two are experienced spearheads, so this should be an intense match-up. Both players are hard at the ball, with Snell averaging 11.5 points per game and Hurst averaging 14.6 points per game. Snell had a quiet week last week with just six points, so she will be raring to go in this match, in a bid to get her team a long-awaited win. Hurst is no easy opponent though, as she also averages 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
Season so far: Sydney Uni comes into Round 8 still without a win. The Spirit are coming into this game off their worst loss of the season, going down against the Fire by 42 points. This makes it two consecutive losses for the Spirit, but they still sit at fourth with six wins and five losses.
The game: If the Spirit didn’t lose heavily on Friday night, it would’ve been hard to back the Flames in for a win. However, the Flames have caught the Spirit at the best possible time, as the in-form side finally looks vulnerable.
Adelaide Lightning v UC Capitals
Sunday 2 December, 3pm at Titanium Security Arena
Key match-up: Nia Coffey v Kia Nurse
Tall timber in the paint will dominate this game, with both Nia Coffey and Kia Nurse grabbing plenty of boards this season. Coffey is averaging 10.8 rebounds per game while Nurse is averaging 5.3. Her advantage comes in points, averaging 19.8 per game, so both players will need to be on their toes both offensively and defensively to get their sides a win.
Season so far: After a Round 1 upset win against Perth, Adelaide has only won two games since, totalling to three wins and six losses for the season. On the other hand, the Capitals have won their last two games and are one of the in-form teams of the competition, sitting second on the ladder.
The game: It’s a second versus second-last clash, so you would expect the Capitals to run away with the win, based on form. But with the Lightning having a home court advantage, the momentum can swing in their favour. Considering they only lost to the Boomers by two points last round, anything could happen on Sunday.