Flames face Waves in crucial final round

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The Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames face the young West Coast Waves outfit in the final round of the 2011/2012 WNBL season needing a win to remain in the play-off hunt.

The tight nature of the season means the final make-up of play-off teams will not be decided until the conclusion of Saturday night’s fixtures, but the Flames know their task is to control what they can control and that is a win against the Waves.

A win on Friday will give the Flames a shot at the play-offs if other results fall their way, but the focus will be very much on defeating the young Waves outfit, who claimed victory on the SUSAC court on their last visit.

Currently holding a 5-5 record at home, the Sydney Uni outfit will be keen to finish the regular season with a positive record and round out their season record at 13-9.

Sydney Uni kept their finals aspirations alive last week with a hard fought win in Bendigo, with a strong second half defensive effort helping the visitors to a heart stopping two-point win.

With Belinda Snell and Alicia Poto leading from the front and versatile forward Lauren King making some clutch plays, the Flames were able to escape with a rare win in the Victorian goldfields.

Veteran guard Natalie Stafford was another who made significant contributions down the stretch and she will be a key player on Friday against a deep and athletic Waves perimeter rotation.

The Waves young guards Ebony Antonio and Shani Amos have revelled in their extended court time this year and form a strong back court rotation with West Coast stalwart Melissa Marsh.

On the wing, 2008 Olympian Rohanee Cox remains a match-up issue for most defences, with her ability to connect on the three point shot, create off the dribble and score in the post.

Her clash with Beijing Olympic team-mate Snell will be a highlight and will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this crucial final round encounter.

Flames coach Karen Dalton said the focus of her group was squarely on the West Coast Waves leading into the game.

“Our win last week will mean little if we don’t come out and play well against the Waves,” she said.

“We need to bring the same sort of defensive effort and rebounding we showed in the second half last week and produce that for 40 minutes.”

“The Waves have some good young players and of course Cox and Marsh have been very good players in this league for a long time, so this will be a challenge for us.”

As part of the game, the Sydney Uni Flames will be acknowledging the local indigenous community, with an “Acknowledgement of Country” and guests from the National Indigenous Centre of Excellence in Redfern.

Tip-off for the game is 7pm, with tickets available at the door.