The Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames will be out to reclaim their home court when they play host to the in-form Bulleen Boomers at SUSAC on Friday night.
The Flames have suffered three losses on their home court prior to Christmas and with the race for the play-offs intensifying, wins at home become crucial for all teams.
With the reigning premiers rolling into town, the Sydney Uni outfit faces a major challenge to reclaim home court superiority and continue a push towards the post season.
Currently sitting at 10-5, the Flames need to continue to win games to stay in the hunt for the all important top two finish and know a win on Friday will provide a valuable series win over the Boomers.
The last time these two teams met, the visiting Flames snatched a dramatic two-point victory in the dying seconds, with skipper Alicia Poto connecting on a 40 metre pass to Katie Rae Ebzery for the game winner.
Bulleen has forged some impressive form since that narrow loss and currently sit in second on the competition table with a 10-4 record.
Flames coach Karen Dalton said any time the reigning champion comes into town, it is a challenge.
“Bulleen won the league last year and is obviously one of the benchmarks this year, so no question it will be a real challenge for our group,” she said.
“They are deep, athletic and really compete at both ends of the floor, so we will need to play well and make sure our defence is up to the challenge.”
Dalton said the Flames were keen to do well in front of their home fans.
“We have had a couple of narrow losses at home and obviously the players are keen to play well and get a win for the fans who come out every week to support the team,” she said.
Standing in the way of that home win will be imposing Bulleen front-line rotation of Liz Cambage, Taylah Roberts, Alice Kunek and Rachel Jarry.
Kunek and Jarry swing between the small forward and power forward roles, providing Boomers coach Tom Maher with great flexibility to compliment the significant talents of Cambage inside.
In the back court, Sam Richards has enjoyed a stellar season after returning from Europe and the Opals quarterback will engage in an important battle with Flames skipper Alicia Poto.
Belinda Snell torched the Boomers in their last encounter with a brilliant display of perimeter shooting and the dual Olympian once again looms as the key player for the home team.
Both teams enter this game knowing the all-important second position on the competition table is at stake and that, coupled with the recent history of some tight battles, points to a fierce contest in this one.
Tip-off is at 7pn this Friday night at the Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre (SUSAC).