WNBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 1 – Grand final rematch to round out opening weekend

ROUND 1 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is set to kick off this weekend with all eight teams prepared to do battle. Sydney Uni and Adelaide will both play two games each with the remaining six only playing the one game.

Friday, October 11

The Adelaide Lightning will be hoping to go one better this year and start this season with a bang after falling agonisingly short in the grand final. Last time these two sides met, Adelaide claimed bragging rights and will want to repeat their efforts again this round to start their year on a positive note. Adelaide has done some heavy recruiting during the off-season and will be wanting to leave a lasting impression on the Sydney Uni Flames with the likes of Stephanie Talbot set to have an impact for her new side. Talbot is no stranger to the big stage given her international experience and class across the court making her an exciting prospect. Meanwhile, Natalie Hurst has already proved her worth for Bendigo and will be wanting to fulfil those expectations for the Lightning as soon as possible. After a disappointing 2018/2019 campaign the Sydney Uni Flames will be wanting to assert themselves early and make a name for themselves. Only managing two wins for the year, expect the Flames to come out with a real fire in the belly and take it up to the Lightning with a relatively new look side. Lauren Scherf will be a handy addition for the Flames given her talent and premiership experience while Kim Hodge will have a point to prove after being elevated from Manly.

Saturday, October 12

The Boomers showed plenty of class last season finishing second after a convincing performance, but were unable to carry that momentum through to the finals series and will be hoping to make amends. Expect duo Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor to be electric from the start and dominate with their ability to hit the scoreboard and work up and down the court to cause havoc for the Spirit. Monique Conti will also be handy across the court with both her defensive and offensive pressure. Bendigo had a relatively up and down season only finishing with eight wins but showed glimpses of brilliance and will be striving for more consistency, but will have their work cut out for them up against quality opposition. However, they should not be underestimated after securing some big name gets such as Kelly Wilson from Canberra and Shyla Heal. Both will be hoping to have an immediate impact on the court in their new colours. In the first game last season the Spirit notched up an inspired win and will be drawing on that confidence and knowledge heading into the match-up while the Boomers will be wanting to flex their muscles and reclaim their ascendancy after bowing out early in the finals.

Saturday, October 12

With a chance to make history in their inaugural season after replacing the Dandenong Rangers the Southside Flyers have a point to prove and stake their claim on the competition. The new look side offers plenty of unpredictability and spark with a host of marquee players from the Opals such as Sara Blicavs and Jenna O’Hea set to done the Flyers jersey. Joining from the reigning premier, Leilani Mitchell is also another handy addition to the squad making for an enthralling contest but it will ultimately come down to whether or not the Flyers can pull all the A-Grade talent together. Townsville had an inconsistent season unable to build on their momentum but put up some strong performances highlighting their skill on the court and game play to apply pressure. Kate Gaze will be one to watch throughout the match after making the switch from premiers UC Capitals. Gaze will offer that spark up and down the court along with her scoreboard impact while Tess Madgen is pivotal across the court.

Sunday, October 13

With their second game in three days for the Flames, Perth Lynx will be aiming to capitalise on their opportunities and apply plenty of pressure early to tire their opposition. It will be an exciting clash with both sides finishing in the top four last season but unable to claim the silverware. Perth claimed early bragging rights with a strong win over the Flames and continued that winning form against Sydney notching up a four point late in the season. Given the previous results the Flames will be hoping to turn the tables and claim some early ascendancy over the Lynx. The Lynx have bolstered their stocks recruiting the likes of Imani-Gee Stafford and Ariel Atkins who will give them that grunt across the court and options going forward while Bendigo Spirit combo Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle will be hoping to hit the ground running for their new team. Sydney will be wanting to build on their form and forge those connections to establish a strong brand and run rampant. Alice Kunek is deadly around the basket showcasing her range while teammate Alex Wilson will be wanting to impose herself on the contest.

Sunday, October 13

With a premiership under their belt, expect UC Capitals to be riding high despite losing a couple of key players across the court. In the grand final rematch the Capitals will be aiming to repeat their efforts while the Lightning will be seeking vengeance. It will be the second game in three days for Adelaide while this marks the first game of the season for the Capitals. Lightning will be looking to the likes of American recruit Brianna Turner to add that element of x-factor along with Nicole Seekamp. Meanwhile, for the Capitals it will be up to Keely Froling and Kelsey Griffin to stand up given both Mikaela Ruef and Mariana Tolo are unavailable. Canadian guard Kia Nurse will be an excitement machine for the Capitals and could cause problems across the court with her clever game play.

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