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February 18, 2014
Déjà vu for the Bendigo Spirit – who will STEEL the win?

Bendigo Spirit is gearing up to host the Townsville Fire in the WNBL Grand Final this Sunday, tip off at 3:15, broadcasted live on ABC TV.

 

We’re feeling a little bit of déjà vu this year as the two best teams of the season repeat from 2013; Bendigo winning that game 75-71. Bendigo defeated Dandenong in the second semi final both last year and this year to earn the right to host the grand final and the girls are keen to have a repeat win for the 2014 grand final.

 

A little bit of background for this year’s match:

 

Bendigo finished the season with a league best 22-2 record, while Townsville finished 16-8 in third spot.

 

Though Townsville defeated the Spirit in the last two of three contests, Bendigo had the most up in Townsville late this season by 21 points.

 

Townsville’s women of steel: Suzy Batkovic (new to the club this season, announced today as winning her 3rd straight MVP), Rachel McCully (plays her 300th game on Sunday), Stephanie Cumming and Kayla Standish.

 

Bendigo’s best: Kristi Harrower (going for 3rd championships in what could be her final game), Gabe Richards (6th in MVP voting, Spirit’s only all-star this season, Kelsey Griffin (5th in MVP voting, last year’s grand final MVP, Kelly Wilson and Sara Blicavs (scored 25 against Townsville last time)

 

Two key match ups could decide the result of the 2014 WNBL grand final: Batkovic vs Richards inside, and McCully vs Harrower on the perimeter.

 

McCully and Harrower are two of the league’s premier point guards and the best defensively in the game, with three defensive player of the year awards between them – who will end the day with the most steals?

Pardon the STEEL puns… Steal (basketball): To take possession of the ball from an offensive player who is holding, dribbling, or passing the ball.

 

While Batkovic and Richards have engaged in many a tussle over the years, with Richards fairing well against the 193cm Fire centre on most occasions.

 

Townsville proved that they can win when Batkovic as an off game (13p, 16r) last week in Dandenong, while they also showed in their last match up with the Spirit that when she plays well (27p, 17r) that they can lose (only scored 57 points that game).

 

Bendigo have proven they can carry on after Elyse Penaluna, with its own 193cm big going down with a torn ACL late in the season.

 

Townsville are the only side to beat Bendigo this year, and Spirit coach Bernie Harrower thinks his side should be viewed as underdogs, while Chris Lucas said after the Fire’s three point win over Dandenong that they would not be coming to Bendigo to lose.

 

Playing team defence will be the key for Bendigo, and making sure they are not too  Batkovic-centric. Last week Townsville had five double-digit scorers, proving they are not a one-player team. Coach Harrower is a firm believer in that “defence wins championships”, and it could net the Spirit back-to-back titles on Sunday.