WNBL Round 7 Preview: Flames v Fire

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Fresh off a win over Melbourne Boomers, Brydens Sydney Uni Flames look to protect their home floor for the second consecutive week as defending champions Townsville Fire come to town for what will be the third fixture between the two sides, writes Lachy France.

Following a raft of close games to begin the season, the Flames finally pulled away for a more convincing win against Melbourne. Ahead by double figures on several occasions, the Boomers pegged the home side back on multiple occasions, but in the end the Flames ran out 87-75 winners behind 20 points from Asia Taylor and a double-double from Carly Boag. Taylor’s efforts were rewarded with the WNBL ‘Player of the Week’ award after several ‘Team of the Week’ nominations in previous rounds.

The Fire had been inconsistent through their first six games of the season, but picked up two wins on their Victorian road trip in a pair of close fixtures. Behind reigning MVP Suzy Batkovic’s 18 points and 8 rebounds, the defending champions saw off Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and the Bendigo Spirit 71-69 in a nail-biter, before dealing Melbourne Boomers their second loss of the weekend in a 74-72 thriller.

The Flames were without Jennifer Hamson for last week’s win, but the towering import centre should return for this Sunday’s game to provide coach Cheryl Chambers with another option in the paint. Hamson’s absence against Melbourne gave Carly Boag a rare start, which she took with both hands, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Flames’ frontcourt will certainly need to be at their best to contend with the Fire, as Kayla Standish, Suzy Batkovic, and Amy Kame contributed 41 of Townsville’s 74 points in their win over Melbourne.

While the frontcourt battle will be intense, teammates will become rivals in the backcourt as Natasha Cloud faces off against Leilani Mitchell. The pair played together in the WNBA with the Washington Mystics and, while their stint together was short, the pair will no doubt have learned about each other’s games in their brief time at Washington and the matchup between them could definitely be something to watch in this game and may go a long way to deciding the winner.

In the end, though, given the previous history between these two teams, this game could come down to one or two moments. That has been the case not only this season, but in past seasons, with tight games almost a guarantee when these two outfits come together. Both sides will have to ensure their execution is near perfect in order to come away with the victory.

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames v Townsville Fire at 3:00pm on Sunday 20 November at Brydens Stadium. 

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