Kilsyth Lady Cobras (18-6) v Nunawading Spectres (13-11), Kilsyth Sports Centre, 6:15pm Saturday, August 27
The Lady Cobras form in the second half of the season has been pretty good, with nine wins from their last 12 games. But over the last four games, Kilsyth has gone 2-2, a far less impressive result. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the shaky form has occurred at the same time that star player Abby Bishop has been away with the Opals. More significant, one of the losses in the last four games came against the team they face this week, the Nunawading Spectres.
The Spectres form has been so-so over the last six games, going 3-3, but we finally saw the Dr Jekyll side of Nunawading last week. Against Hobart, the players looked happy with plenty of smiling faces and coherency on court. The Spectres also showed plenty of heart, diving on loose balls and hustling after rebounds. But when your team is up by 25 points, it’s hard to be upset, so it’s tough to know if the players will still play with the same intensity if they get into a situation when the chips are down.
There are few better players in this league than Abby Bishop, but it remains to be seen if she will suit up for the Lady Cobras this week. Due to Opal and University Games commitments, Bishop has not played for Kilsyth since round 15. In her absence, Eva Afeaki becomes the primary weapon in the Lady Cobras arsenal. The class and touch she shows is rarely found in post players, and will be a test for anything the Nunawading big’s can throw at her.
Alice Kunek is one of the league’s best players right now. The former Lady Cobra has scored 20 points or more in four of her last five games, including a competition high of 39 points against Albury/Wodonga in round 17. Carly Wilson is the other major danger. Probably yet to recapture her best form, Wilson is a big time player and still one of the best defenders in the league, so her influence (or lack thereof) will be crucial to the Spectres chances.
In the 2011 player’s survey earlier this year, Chantella Perera was voted as the competition’s second most athletic player. Her combination of quickness and agility make her one of the hardest players to match up on, and when these teams last met in round 17, Perera had 23 points and 7 rebounds in a losing battle. She has also come good at the right time of year with three 20+ point games in her last five outings.
Over the first two-thirds of the season, Jillian Noe was barely having an impact on games. She looked at odds with her coach and at times disinterested. But over the last eight games, she has turned the corner. Noe has averaged 11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in that time, well up on season averages of 7.5 ppg and 6.6 rpg, and she has also notched up season highs in assists and steals over the same stretch. She could be the biggest unknown going into this game, and key to a Spectres upset.
Key Match ups
Carly Wilson vs Abby Bishop
If Bishop suits up, it may be the job of the 2010 SEABL Defensive Player of the Year in Carly Wilson to put a lock down job on her fellow Opal. This may require Wilson to play closer to the basket than would be familiar to her, but she has all the attributes required to test Bishop. Wilson has the length and quickness to deny Bishop from getting easy catches close to the basket, and at the other end she may be able to drag Bishop away from the basket with her perimeter game.
Eva Afeaki vs Eleanor Brentnall/Caitlin Cunningham
Without doubt, Afeaki is one of the best centres in the league. However, on the two occasions these teams have met this year, she has averaged only 4.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, and she must have a far bigger impact if the Lady Cobras are going to get over the Spectres. It may be a combination of players required to keep her in check again this week, with Brentnall able to keep her away from the low post, and Cunningham able to gain an advantage in quickness and length.
Previous Meetings This Year
Kilsyth 70 def Nunawading 56 @ Nunawading
Nunawading 61 def Kilsyth 55 @ Kilsyth
At full strength, Kilsyth should have no problems accounting for Nunawading. But if Bishop doesn’t play, and given the Spectres recent form, this could go either way.
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