Rarely would a game between fourth and tenth on the ladder draw enough attention to warrant Game of the Week status. But for a number of reasons, this game is set to be anything but normal.
Brisbane has hit top gear in the last month. The Lady Spartans have won four of their last five games, and their only loss in that time was a 1-point defeat to Bendigo in Bendigo. Since Nikki Bairstow has taken over, Brisbane is playing a far more accountable brand of basketball, and that’s reflected in the stats.
Over their first ten games of the season, the Lady Spartans were getting beaten by an average of almost 12 points every night, but over the last five games Brisbane have been outscoring their opponents by an average of 8.2 points per game. That’s effectively a 20-point turnaround and gives you some idea of the size of the momentum shift. Given there have been no changes to the line-up in that time, the shift must be credited to the change in coaching. With playoffs still yet to be ruled out completely, Brisbane are looking more and more like the team from the bottom half of the competition with a real chance to make the playoffs.
If Brisbane have gone up a gear, then Kilsyth have slipped into neutral. The Lady Cobras have dropped three of their last six games, and have gone from second on the ladder in round 8 to fourth on the ladder at the moment. Their three losses over the last six games have come against Knox, Bendigo and Dandenong, teams that are all above them on the ladder, and it’s not the type of form that would fill Lady Cobra fans with hope going into the run towards the playoffs. Adding to Kilsyth’s dilemma this week is the fact that their star player, Abby Bishop, will not be making the trip to Carina, and takes over 18 points and 10 rebounds a game with her. Hayley Moffatt stepped up the last time Bishop was out of the side and won Player of the Week honours, but it can’t be helpful to the team to have your best player in and out of the team on such a regular occurrence.
So how do these teams match up? Recent form: Brisbane. Home court advantage: Brisbane. Full strength line-up: Brisbane. Ladder position: Kilsyth. Although Brisbane has a huge opportunity to cause an upset, it may be that last comparison that matters the most.
Prediction: Kilsyth by 8.
BRISBANE vs KILSYTH
Saturday 9th July – 7:30pm
Brisbane’s hopes of an unlikely playoff birth were all but broken last week after suffering three losses on the road. However, the Spartans must take hope from their overall competitiveness in those losses, going down to Geelong in overtime, to Bendigo by 3 points, and to Frankston by 7 without Greg Vanderjagt. Remarkably, six of the Spartans remaining eight games are at home where they are far more competitive, so they still have a real opportunity to make something of the last part of the season. New recruit Thomas Ammar also looks to be a complete player, while Heath Gameran is similarly improving with each game. Kilsyth are anything but assured of a playoff spot, and their 20-point loss to Knox last week showed that the Cobras desperately miss Quincy Henderson, and they still have work to do before they can be taken as a serious finals threat.
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