BENDIGO Bank Spirit star Gabe Richards has revealed the birth of her niece was part motivation for her best-on-court effort against South East Queensland Stars last weekend. Richards produced a career best effort as the Spirit downed the top of the ladder Stars 84-79 at Bendigo Stadium.
Her 33 point haul, combined with 10 rebounds, three blocks and one steal, earned Richards the WNBL Player of the Week nomination for round five. The two-time WNBL championship centre said she was keen for a big game after her sister gave birth that morning
“The girls were joking – my little sister had a baby at 3am that morning – so I had to pull something out of the bag to be my dad’s favourite again,” she said. “I’ll have to credit that (game) to little Miss Maci, who was born to my little sister Madie and her partner Matt.”
The dominant effort could not have come against more impressive opposition or at a more important time. The win kept the Spirit in touch with the leading division and two wins ahead of sixth-placed Townsville, albeit the Fire have played two less games.
“It was a super-tough, but important game for us where we needed the win,” Richards said. “Having dropped to Adelaide (Lightning) the week before, we knew we could bounce back against SEQ.
“We didn’t have the best of games up there in round one – we just missed a lot of shots – but we were confident we could get the win and we did.” A two-time All-Star Five selection, Richards said the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas would go a long way in to determining the Spirit’s 2015-16 championship aspirations.
That starts this Sunday with the Spirit to host the fourth-placed Perth Lynx at Bendigo Stadium. It will be the third time the two teams have met in five weeks, with the Spirit holding a 2-0 advantage over their Western Australian rivals.
Richards said she expected the Lynx to mix things up a bit from previous encounters. “I’m sure they will throw a few different things at us having beaten them twice,” she said.
“They are certainly a competitive group and will be coming to get a win,” she said. “Nat Burton is an Opals player and Louella Tomlinson is really big and blocks a lot of shots.
“She’s a little unorthodox, but certainly gets the job done.” The Spirit versus Lynx clash tips-off at 2pm Sunday at Bendigo Stadium.