Spirit to face Flames in Mildura

November 10, 2023 BY

Strong effort: US import guard Mehryn Kraker had 16 points as well as four rebounds and assists as the Bendigo Spirit dropped their home and season opener last Saturday night at Red Energy Arena. Photo: STEVE WOMERSLEY

BENDIGO Spirit makes its way to Mildura to take on Sydney Flames in this Friday night’s second round match in the Cygnett Women’s National Basketball League season.

It’s the second time in less than seven weeks Spirit plays at Mildura’s Sporting Precinct.

Stakes are much higher than the September match when Spirit faced Mildura Heat’s men’s team in a pre-season warm-up.

Spirit and Flames are both on the rebound from the season opener which was also Indigenous Round when they play in Mildura from 7.30pm.

“We are expecting a tough match and know we can be a lot better,” Spirit coach Kennedy Kereama said of facing the Flames’ heat.

“For us it’s a lot about limiting the amount of turnovers.

“Some lapses in concentration really hurt us,” he said of the first-round defeat.

Momentum and scoring runs switched dramatically as Spirit was beaten 80-93 by Townsville in last Saturday night’s home game at Red Energy Arena in West Bendigo.

Although Spirit won the rebounding duels, 35-24, and had higher field goal percentage, 50 to 47, Fire’s free-throw accuracy and three-point shooting were key factors.

Spirit won last season’s match against Adelaide Lightning in Mildura.

“The support we had in Mildura was superb,” Kereama said of that contest in the north. “As a club a big focus for Spirit is on community and taking the game to regional centres.

“For the people of Mildura and Sunraysia it’s a chance to see top-level basketball.”

The Spirit squad in ’23-24 includes Alicia Froling, Mehryn Kraker, Casey Samuels, Alex Wilson and centre Ruth Davis.

Kelly Wilson brings 400-plus games of experience, a WNBL record, to the court for Bendigo.

Spirit captain and multiple grand final MVP award winner Kelsey Griffin will again be on the sidelines as she recovers from a hamstring injury.

The Flames went down 71-85 against Perth Lynx in the west.

“Sydney is a well-balanced team. It’s not about stopping two or three players. Team defence will be crucial,” Kereama said of taking on the Guy Molloy-coached Flames.

Cayla George, Lauren Nicholson and Didi Richards are key members of Sydney’s line-up.