By Lachy France
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames may have gone down 93-90 to the Perth Lynx in their season opener, but this week brings another early chance to defend their home patch against long-time rival, The University of Canberra Capitals. The Flames will be without veteran Hayley Moffatt, who suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the loss to Perth, but still retain a strong roster even despite the team’s spate of recent injuries.
Leilani Mitchell has slotted into the lineup almost seamlessly on her return to the Flames, tallying 15 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds in an excellent first-up performance. Asia Taylor and Belinda Snell also played vital roles in keeping the Flames in the hunt against Perth, scoring 18 and 14 points respectively. Jennifer Hamson made a terrific start to her WNBL career in the season opener, racking up 19 points and 17 rebounds and this week will see her take on ex-Los Angeles Sparks teammate and 2016 Olympian Marianna Tolo in what will no doubt be an intense battle in the paint. Marianna Tolo registered a double-double of her own against Dandenong in her first game back in Caps colours in four years, racking up 15 points and 10 rebounds, drawing 6 fouls from the Rangers in the process.
In the end though, how well the Flames replace Moffatt’s production will go a long way to determining their fate, not only against the Capitals, but for the rest of the season. One area that the Flames will certainly want to improve on this week is ball handling after committing 22 turnovers in a game littered with errors last week. The Capitals, on the other hand, committed just 10 against Dandenong, so the Flames will have to ensure that they take far better care of the ball if they are to pick up their first win of the season this week. However, with the Flames’ roster featuring so many new players, chemistry will no doubt continue to build and that turnover number will surely come down in coming games.
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