Bendigo Bank Spirit Out To Combat Bogey Team Boomers

Akuna Photography

Bendigo Bank Spirit coach Simon Pritchard says the team could not be better prepared in its bid to topple bogey side the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday night.

The Spirit have been meticulous in their planning this week after falling to the Boomers twice previously this season.

A scrimmage session on Thursday night rounded out the team’s preparation, with Pritchard declaring the Spirit were ready to roar against a team that has caused them plenty of grief already this season.

He said the key would be dealing with the physicality imposed on his players by a confident and well-coached Boomers line-up.

“We had a leaders meeting about strategy after training Tuesday and we came up with four or five ideas to attack Melbourne,” he said.

“For us it’s about what we do.

“The big discussion was we are not doing ‘our’ stuff as well as we can against Melbourne.

“They are being physical and throwing us off the ball and we are not reacting well to that physicality.

“It’s about being able to handle that physicality, not worrying about the officiating and getting on and doing our job.”

A few question marks surround a talent-laden Boomers team.

Former Spirit star Elyse Penaluna will miss with a knee injury, while there are doubts over the availability of captain Tess Madgen.

The Opals star is third in the league in points per game, averaging 18, but has been ruled out of next week’s trip to Brazil with a troublesome ankle.

Pritchard said there was a host of other Boomers capable of inflicting damage on the Spirit.

They include Brittany Smart, who is averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, 4.5 assists in games against the Spirit this season.

But Pritchard said the team was determined not to let another game against their Melbourne visitors slip from grasp.

“The two games we’ve played against them, the first game was terrible, the second game we didn’t handle the last four or five minutes well.

“They gave us an opportunity to win the game, but our shot selection was poor.

“We tidy those things up and deal with the physicality, we win the game.”

Spirit centre Gabe Richards said the group had set themselves a task of winning as many games at home and this provided the catalyst for a big win against Canberra last weekend after the disappointment of two pre-Christmas defeats.

She predicted another big game from star forward Kelsey Griffin, whose 20 points, 14 rebounds and three steals against the Capitals earned her the nomination as WNBL Player of the Week.

“I know she’s pretty fired up – don’t get in the way of a fired up Kelsey Griffin,” Richards said.

Two-time WNBL grand final MVP Griffin is averaging a team-high 17 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Kelly Wilson leads the league with 5.6 assists per game.

Tip-off is at 7pm.

Article: Kieran Iles, Bendigo Advertiser
Photo: Steve Blake, Akuna Photography

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