Spirit ups heat for crucial contest
BENDIGO Spirit is desperate to end its winless run in Cygnett Women’s National Basketball League, as the team gets ready to take on the Sydney Flames.
The showdown between the seventh-placed Bendigo and sixth-placed Sydney tips off at 6.30pm at Red Energy Arena in Marong Road in West Bendigo.
For Spirit coach Kennedy Kereama there are some crucial areas the team must improve dramatically to take their first points of the 2023-24 campaign.
“We are giving up far too many fouls shots on our defensive play,” he said following last weekend’s defeats to Perth Lynx in Western Australia and then a 74-76 loss on the Melbourne Boomers’ court.
“Defensively we have not been terrible, but have averaged 18 foul shots per game.
“We must be more disciplined in defence.”
Another is Spirit’s return from the free-throw line. From 69 free-throw attempts, Bendigo has sunk 43, a percentage of 62.3.
“That sort of return just does not cut at this level,” Kereama said.
Teams with a free-throw percentage above the 80-mark are Townsville, Sydney and Perth who have all faced Spirit across the opening three weeks of the season.
After holding a 12-point lead at the start of the final quarter against Melbourne, Spirit could not halt the Boomers charge in the early minutes of the fourth term.
In just over three minutes, Melbourne went on a 13-nil run to take the lead.
Bendigo did regain the lead and had the final shot of the contest, but it was the Boomers which clinched victory.
A huge plus for Bendigo against the Boomers was the return of captain and four-time WNBL championship winner Kelsey Griffin to the court.
Sidelined for the opening three games because of a hamstring injury, Griffin achieved WNBL career-high 33 points.
“Kelsey is a class act,” Kereama said. “It was awesome to have her back on court and playing as brilliantly as she did.
“It’s a credit to the work she has done in recovery and to be ready for game-day.”
As the on-court leader, Griffin will again play a pivotal role as will all team-mates in Spirit’s quest to take the points against the Flames.