Spirit strives to douse Fire

November 3, 2023 BY

Game face: Four-time WNBL championship winner Kelly Wilson is set to line up for the Bendigo Spirit in the club’s opening game of the 2023/24 season this Saturday. Photo: SPORTS PRESS PHOTO/ SIPA USA

PRELIMINARIES are done as the fight for championship points begins.

A new-look Bendigo Spirit takes to its court at Red Energy Arena this Saturday night for game one of the Cygnett WNBL season.

It’s a huge task for the Kennedy Kereama-coached Spirit against the reigning champions.

“This is a challenge we have known about for a while and are really keen to take on,” Kereama said.

Defensive intensity will be a key to Spirit’s play against the Shannon Seebohm-coached Fire.

“Townsville has so many talented players. It’s not a case of stop one or two, they have so many scoring options,” Kereama said.

“Sometimes you can be caught up in what the opposition is doing, so it’s important to focus on what we do well and execute.”

Spirit has played 10 matches across the pre-season which included a series in South Korea.

“There’s been a lot of work going into different combinations and plays,” Kereama said of working toward reaching play-offs and challenging to be the number one team.

“The changes we have made mean we have a lot more versatility, and a lot of players capable of scoring from the perimeter.”

Newcomers to the Spirit line-up include centre Ruth Davis, New Zealander Esra McGoldrick, and guard Mehryn Kraker.

They team up with the likes of Alicia Froling, and WNBL games record-holder and four-time championship winner Kelly Wilson.

An incredible career of 400-plus games in the league includes two championship victories with Spirit, and also titles with Townsville Fire and Canberra Capitals.

Spirit starts the season with 2019 league MVP and four-time champion Kelsey Griffin sidelined by a hamstring injury.

“We played 10 matches across the pre-season without KG,” Kereama said. “Being injured is a huge blow, but creates an opportunity for others.”

Although she is likely to miss the opening two or three rounds, Griffin’s in-game insights will be a huge plus to the team.

Players to watch for Townsville include Sami Whitcomb, Steph Reid, Mikaela Ruff and Courtney Woods.

The Spirit and Fire showdown tips off at 5pm at the Marong Road venue.