Round 13 WNBL Preview: Crucial clashes for top four spots, John Cain Arena blockbuster

If you thought last round was intense, then you're in for a treat this week! There's no looking past the double-header between the Townsville Fire and the Perth Lynx, but also the history-making game between the Sydney Flames and the Southside Flyers at John Cain Arena. There are four more rounds until finals, and this is a pivotal one, so cancel your weekend plans and tune in!

Crucial clashes for top four

The Townsville Fire and the Perth Lynx teams have been fighting hard to stay in the hunt for a spot in the top four ahead of the upcoming finals.

The Fire have the advantage of already being one of the four, however, they have been challenged and chased by a few teams sitting below them. One team is at the top of the pack and are gaining speed. They are so close to taking out the Fire and being promoted to fourth spot on the ladder.

These teams play each other twice this round and the Lynx will be looking to go two from two; after seven wins in a row, what's another couple? Both teams are relatively evenly matched, both possessing strength from their bigs to their smalls, and you can count on there being a shootout on the offensive end. However, in saying this, both Fire's star players are likely to be sitting out with injury and therefore they will be lacking in that department.

Well, that was until recently. As of Tuesday, it's been reported that the Townsville Fire have signed Shyla Heal and she is cleared to play this coming round. You only need to play seven games to qualify for Finals and the Fire have seven games left - how convenient!

Considering the drama that surrounds the Sydney Flames and her dad, Shane Heal, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Shyla used to play for the Fire under Shannon Seebohm and alongside Lauren Nicholson and Steph Reid, so will be in familiar territory.

It's nice to see something that appears to be out of Shyla's control, not ruin her chances of playing in the WNBL, as that would simply be a waste of talent. But will the mounting pressure and the circumstances of being thrust into a new team prove too much?

Can the Flames rise to the occasion?

It's a historic moment for women's basketball, as John Cain Arena is set to host its first ever WNBL game. The game will feature the Southside Flyers with powerhouse Lauren Jackson, against the Sydney Flames, the Flames coming in as the underdogs.

In saying that, last week the Adelaide Lightning showed that the Flyers were beatable, despite not actually securing the win. The Lightning and the Flames have had similarly difficult seasons, regarding losing imports and struggling to play well consistently, thus resulting in them both being at the bottom end of the ladder. They have something else in common too, and that is their gritty never-give-up playing style which sees them continue to push teams.

If the Flames can follow their lead, then they might just be able to steal the win and give the crowd at John Cain Arena a real show!

Boomers after payback

Just two rounds ago the Melbourne Boomers were shown up at home by the Bendigo Spirit in a late comeback. The Boomers proved to be in control most of the game, but the determined Spirit team kept chipping away at the lead, multiple players stepping up, particularly in the absence of Kelsey Griffin.

The Boomers are on a two-game losing streak and won't want to make it three. You can expect to see Cayla George and Tiffany Mitchell firing yet again, and Kristy Wallace will be back to her best, hitting those mid-range jumpers like we know she can.

The Boomers will have to bring the same level of grit as the Spirit and make an extra effort not to get in foul trouble if they want a chance to win this game.