In what might have be the hottest week of WNBL action so far, Round 4 gave us some amazing moments of individual brilliance and unlike previous rounds, every team showed up as if they were on an even playing field.
There were upsets, new players, and one team that remains unbeaten at the end of it all.
NEW FACES MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The Southside Flyers were not at their best this weekend. They were, however, without Star Lauren Jackson who was at home unwell and missed both games.
While they lacked the usual dominant inside presence from Jackson, they had a new face joining them -- after a season off from WNBL, AFLW gun Monique Conti has been re-signed by the Flyers. She was immediately thrown into the action, playing 30 minutes across the two games, clearly not signed to just man the bench. Conti's speed and high-octane defence alleviates some of the pressure off Maddy Rocci and allows her to focus more on being a scoring threat, something already noticeable this weekend as she scored 13 points in her first game and then 26 points in her second.
Another returning player is Tessa Lavey for the Bendigo Spirit, also coming off an AFLW season. Her effect on the game was instant as the Spirit won a tight battle over the previously undefeated Townsville Fire. Lavey's experience showed at the end of the game when she was put on for majority of the last quarter, hitting a three to put the Spirit up with less than two minutes to go. It's not that the Spirit have struggled without her, but she adds even more depth to their already successful side and will be someone else they can rely on.
The UC Capitals have finally caught a break, with Jade Melbourne returning from an ankle injury and a new import Nicole Munger making a difference. After the departure of Dekeiya Cohen, things couldn't have seemed worse. However, despite not getting the win, they played admirably and looked the best they have this season. Munger provided a physical presence -- in her first game she posted a near double-double. Her combination with Rae Burrell showed the potential for the Capitals moving forward and they should take great confidence in their performance, seeing as they only lost by 10 points to an in-form Adelaide Lightning team.
TOP SPOT CLAIMED BUT THE COMPETITION APPEARS MORE EVEN
Bendigo's undefeated streak continues, but not without teams pushing them to the final buzzer. Anneli Maley recorded two double-doubles (almost to be expected at this point) and was key to her team's success. They narrowly got over the line against a competitive Townsville Fire team, only winning by two points -- a match up that will likely be tough for most throughout the season. In their second game for the round, they were nearly shown up by bottom team the Sydney Flames. Although they remain undefeated, this round has proven that they are beatable.
ADELAIDE HAVING FUN
After a slow start to the season, the Adelaide Lightning have found their feet and continue to improve each game. Beating the UC Caps and the Southside Flyers this round, they are brimming with confidence.
Coach Nat Hurst doesn't hesitate in playing her full roster, each player who comes on looks assertive and brings something different. Her rotating roster means the opposition are always on their toes, doing their best to stop the endless talent. It also means that they aren't relying on one player, specifically Steph Talbot.
The scoring is evenly spread, thanks to sharpshooter Lauren Mansfield and imports Kiersten Bell and Jacinta Monroe, but Talbot still manages to impact the game regardless on all areas of the floor.
The team's style of play is full of energy and selflessness, they all have the green light and it's clear they are having fun while playing, and thriving off it.