The Bendigo Bank Spirit will play two practice matches in the lead up to the 2016-17 WNBL season. The Spirit will play the Deakin University Melbourne Boomers at Ballarat on September 17, before taking on the Jayco Dandenong Rangers at Werribee a week later.
Coach Simon Pritchard said sparring with two teams that had the better of The Spirit last year was a good start to the season. “Melbourne will have had a few more weeks together than us when we play them in Ballarat, but it should be a good contest,” he said.
“Both teams have strong support in Ballarat, and we are all really looking forward to it. “We know both games are all about learning teaching and understanding our systems. All three teams won’t care about the results, it will just be about getting the groups together under pressure and seeing how they react.”
The Spirit will begin full training on September 5, with a full roster expected to be available within a few weeks. “Nadeen Payne will be ready to go from day one and we will know more about Ashleigh Karaitiana after this week’s SEABL game,” Pritchard said.
“After a sensational Olympics, we are expecting Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe to touch down about a week after training starts. “Blake Dietrick may be a bit longer, depending on whether she can secure another short-term WNBA contract.
“We are monitoring Gabe Richards’ recovery from surgery and Ebony Rolph is also recovering from an injury suffered during the SEABL season.” In the meantime, Ballarat Rush young gun Lydia Brooks will step up onto the preseason roster.
“Lydia has impressed us this SEABL season and we want to have a look at her,” Pritchard said. “We will test her out pre season and see how she performs. We gave Ebony the same opportunity at the start of last season and she is on our roster now. “Lydia can play as a big, so will be able to cover Gabe or Ebony in the early games.“
Ticket details for the Ballarat and Werribee games can be found here.