In-form Olympians key to Flames v Lightning clash

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The form of Australian stars and dual Olympians Belinda Snell and Suzy Batkovic will be the key elements when the Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames clash with the Adelaide Lightning at Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre on Friday night.

Two of the stars of a golden era for Australian women’s basketball, Flames guard Snell and Lightning centre Batkovic, have been in white-hot form in recent weeks.

Snell exploded for 36 points in last week’s two-point loss to Logan, nearly inspiring her Flames team to an unlikely win with some late game heroics and shot making.

Batkovic went one better, scoring 37 against Bulleen, including an 18 point final term to lead her team to a dramatic come from behind victory over the reigning champions.

With plenty of international and big game experience behind them, the two Opals stars have shown why they are regarded as international basketball’s premier players.

While both teams have plenty of depth and talent, the fortunes of the two former EuroLeague and WNBA stars will be the key to this much-anticipated top of the table clash.

Flames coach Karen Dalton knows stopping talented former Flames centre Batkovic will be crucial if her team is to return to the winner’s circle.

“Adelaide is deep, talented, versatile and organised, but obviously Suzy is the key with the way she has been playing this year,” Dalton said.

“Our team defence will need to be at its best to limit not only Suzy, but players like Lewis, Screen, Bishop and Marino.”

Dalton said regardless of the opponent, defence and rebounding remain a focus for the Flames.

“The league is deep and talented, so it is not about preparing for individuals, but rather ensuring we are consistently sound at that end of the floor,” she said.

At the other end of floor, the Flames will be looking to get back to the creative ball movement that was a feature of the first seven games of the season, but was lacking in the loss to Logan.

The Flames had been averaging in excess of 20 assists per outing in their unbeaten run and will need to get back to finding the open player if they are to complete the season series against the charging Lightning outfit.

Tip-off for the WNBL top of the table clash is 7pm, with tickets available at the door. St Andrew’s Cathedral College and Kambala College will play a curtain raiser to the big game at 5.15pm, with doors opening at 5pm.