The JCU Townsville Fire’s title credentials will go on the line tomorrow night when they face the Sydney Uni Flames.
The 2015/16 Wattle Valley WNBL season may well be the closest in the competition’s 36-year history, and with the series against the Flames locked at 1-1, the series decider could well be the difference between playing finals or not.
Earlier this season, the Flames pinched a 73-70 win at Townsville RSL Stadium only for the Fire to repay the favour at the Kingdome in overtime thanks to a Suzy Batkovic masterclass.
The Fire captain was back to her imposing best last week as she posted a season-high 37 points against the University of Canberra to reaffirm her MVP credentials, just days after leading Australia to a gold medal at the Rio Test Event.
According to Fire coach Chris Lucas, however, the game will be won and lost at the defensive end.
“We’ve got to have a real defensive focus,” Lucas said.
“We had moment where we were better last week but we still need to make improvements.
“We need to control the tempo and to make sure that their pressure game doesn’t get to us.
“If we can do that, and execute, we’ll be in a good spot.”
With Tamara Tatham ruled out for the remainder of the WNBL season, the Fire will need to make an adjustment to their starting group, with Mia Murray set to return to the small forward’s role after spending the majority of the season as a shooting guard.
The Flames also have injury concerns with star import Carolyn Swords recently undergoing surgery after injuring her hand.
The WNBA centre is averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game since arriving in Australia, but looks certain to miss tonight’s fixture while rehabilitating.
The Fire and the Flames tip-off at 7pm on Friday night.
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