Round 4 is going to be another exciting round of WNBL action with top spot on the ladder up for grabs! The Sydney Flames have another tough double header, and the Perth Lynx will have a chance to get the Boomers back having gained some recent momentum.
GAME OF THE ROUND
The Bendigo Spirit will play off against the red-hot Townsville Fire in a clash for top spot on the ladder on Friday. Both teams are undefeated, but it's fair to say the Spirit have had the easier run out of the two teams, having played the Perth Lynx, Sydney Flames, and UC Caps. The Fire on the other hand have come up against the Caps, Adelaide Lightning, and Southside Flyers.
Having already knocked off the Flyers -- another top placed team -- the Fire will be brimming with confidence ahead of this game. That's not to say they are the favourites; Bendigo is a very strong team with plenty of depth. This may be the deciding factor in this contest, considering, so far, the Fire have been primarily relying on the solid form of Steph Reid and Lauren Nicholson.
Like their match up against the Flyers, the Fire will be lacking in size against the dominant inside forces of the Spirit. Megan McKay and Kelsey Griffin are tough bigs to control and the double-double queen Anneli Maley is just another power the Fire will have to keep at bay. Tianna Hawkins and Mikaela Ruef will have their work cut out for them.
In saying that, if Reid and Nicholson continue to dominate then that might just be enough -- they won't have it easy however, Spirit guards Abbey Wehrung, Kelly Wilson and Alex Wilson are likely to be very aggressive on defence to shut them down.
Both teams have been scoring above 75 points which means defence will be the priority and the vital ingredient to winning the game.
PERTH VS. BOOMERS
Back at Perth Lynx's home court for a second time, they will face their first-round match up in the Melbourne Boomers. Last time the Boomers got the better of them with an offensive showing from across their roster. But since then, their opposition has found their feet, the Perth Lynx look like a completely different team now.
Although Sami Whitcomb continues to impress with her one footed three pointers and all her offensive jazz, the rest of her team have done a better job working together and utilising each other's strengths. This new Lynx team can stretch the floor with all their guards and bigs able to knock down shots and finish inside. If the Lynx can find their offensive rhythm, then it is likely to be a much tighter contest than the previous one.
TIANA MANGAKAHIA STANDS OUT FOR FLAMES
In her WNBL debut season, Tiana Mangakahia is doing her bit to keep the Sydney Flames looking competitive. From the get-go, it was clear Mangakahia had a role defensively and she put everything into it. She hasn't taken a backwards step, this was particularly noticeable in their game against the Perth Lynx, where Mangakahia had the job on Sami Whitcomb. In the first quarter specifically, it was obvious that Whitcomb felt uncomfortable by the pressure. This is a testament to Mangakahia, who might not have stolen the ball or caused turnovers but wore out Whitcomb with her constant physical pressure.
On the opposite end of the floor, where her team has been struggling, we saw her light it up offensively and create a spark for the Flames against the Lightning. She had 15 points shooting three from three from deep. It's early days but if this is anything to go off, then she will only perform better as the season progresses.
ROUND 4 MATCH UPS:
Adelaide vs. UC Capitals, 6pm, Wednesday, 30 November, Adelaide Arena
Flyers vs. Sydney, 6:30pm, Thursday, 1 December, State Basketball Centre
Townsville vs. Bendigo, 7pm, Friday, 2 December, Townsville Entertainment Centre
Perth vs. Melbourne, 6:30pm, Friday 2 December, Bendat Basketball Centre
Adelaide vs. Flyers, 7pm, Saturday 3 December, Adelaide Arena
Sydney vs. Bendigo, 4:30pm, Sunday 4 December, Qudos Bank Arena