The JCU Townsville Fire’s title defence will be determined in the next two months as the reigning champions vie for a fourth straight Grand Final appearance.
Having paced the Wattle Valley WNBL en route to their maiden championship last season, the Fire has struggled to re-capture their best form in 2015/16, showing glimpses along the way including their round two victory over the University of Canberra Capitals.
On that occasion, the Fire roared to a 104-60 win over the Capitals courtesy of a game-high 30 points from skipper Suzy Batkovic, while Mia Murray (18 points) and Nat Novosel (17 points) also caused damage from the perimeter.
A 5-4 record at home, however, has been one of the primary reasons the Fire is fighting for a top-four spot, despite boasting the best away record in the competition.
“We need to return Townsville RSL Stadium into our home fortress,” Fire captain Suzy Batkovic said.
“We hate disappointing our fans – they always turn out and support us – so it’s important that we repay their faith in us.
“We don’t want to drop another game on our home floor this season.”
The three-time WNBL MVP will return to the Fire’s line-up after a whirlwind trip with the Australian team to Rio alongside Cayla George, with the Opals securing gold at the Olympic Test Event with a 10-point victory over Brazil.
Batkovic and George were two of the star performers for the Opals, but with their club colours back on, they are determined to do everything in the power to defend their WNBL title.
“Since the Australian team was announced for the Olympic Test Event, I have had a lot of people ask whether Rio would be a distraction, but I can categorically confirm that it’s not,” George said prior to her departure to Rio.
“While it will be great to pull on the green and gold over the next couple of weeks, by the time we touch down in Townsville we will be ready to go against Canberra on the Australia Day weekend.
“With the Olympics on the horizon, we are parking that until the end of the WNBL season, and if we have it our way, our successful title defence.”
This week’s game is proudly brought to you by Townsville RSL.
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