Bendigo Bank Spirit Fire Raid

Akuna Photography

A 2-0 Queensland road trip would be the perfect early Christmas present for Bendigo Bank Spirit coach Simon Pritchard.

The Spirit (7-5) are in fourth place on a tight Women’s National Basketball League ladder and two wins over the weekend against Townsville (7-3) and South East Queensland (6-5) would put last season’s runners-up ideally placed at the halfway mark of the season.

Belinda Snell will play her 250th WNBL game on Friday night.

“We’re going to Queensland expecting to win both games,’’ Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.

“We’ve beaten Townsville once already this season and, even though it’s much on the second leg of a road double, South East Queensland are very gettable because they’ve lost three games in a row and they’ve lost an import.

“It’s such a great opportunity for us this weekend. If we can win both games it puts us right in the top group on the ladder.”

Friday night’s clash in Townsville against the Fire is the big one for the Spirit.

The reigning champions have a star-studded squad and will be desperate to atone for the loss to the Spirit earlier in the season.

Restricting the influence of Fire twin towers Suzy Batkovic and Cayla Francis is high on the Spirit’s agenda.

“We can’t let Suzy get 33 points or something like that,’’ Pritchard said.

“Maybe you can concede 18 points or so each for Suzy and Cayla. That only makes 36 points and it puts pressure on their perimeter players to score.

“We’re confident we can put some things in place to restrict their perimeter players.”

Victory against the Fire would guarantee the Spirit the season-split over Townsville.

“That split could be very important come the end of the season,’’ Pritchard said.

“Realistically, there are three teams who could miss the play-offs by half a game. There are no certainties to make the play-offs – not even Perth and Townsville.”

The Fire-Spirit game, which is Belinda Snell’s 250th WNBL match, starts at 8pm (AEDT) on Friday.

The second leg of the Spirit’s road double is against the SEQ Stars in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.

Article: Adam Bourke, Bendigo Advertiser
Photo: Steve Blake, Akuna Photography

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