Spirit fights to host WNBL play-offs

Editorial: Spirit defy the odds to sit on top of ladder 

The Bendigo Bank Spirit is no certainty to host the Women’s National Basketball League grand final this season, even if it wins the second semi-final.

Under the WNBL finals system, the top two teams – likely to be Bendigo and Dandenong – play off in the second semi for direct entry to the grand final.

The Spirit believed the winner of that match would host the decider; however, a day of drama erupted yesterday following a tweet from the club’s official Twitter account.

“#BendigoSpirit#DandenongRangers missing out on hosting WNBL G/F. ‘WOWSERS’,” the tweet read.

The tweet was followed by another post stating that while no official decision had been relayed to the club, it believed Bendigo Stadium was an unlikely option because its capacity was less than 3000.

Spirit officials scrambled to meet Bendigo Stadium representatives yesterday and confirmed temporary stands could be erected to increase capacity above 3000.

But a spokesman for Basketball Australia said a variety of factors influenced the final venue – not just capacity.

“There’s a number of factors that dictate where a grand final is held – the teams involved, venue capacity, consultation with ABC (TV),” the spokesman said..

“But ultimately BA holds the cards in terms of when and where finals are played.

“At this point we haven’t confirmed the venue.”

Bendigo Spirit administration officer Jess Lee said the club has a meeting with league officials today and will guarantee Bendigo Stadium can accommodate more than 3000.

“It puts the ball back in their court,” Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said. 

Bendigo Stadium has previously held Commonwealth Games and Australian Opals matches, with a temporary stand erected for Kristi Harrower’s 200th match for the Opals against Brazil before the London Olympics last year.

Before the Spirit can plan for a grand final or preliminary final it needs to book a place in the second semi-final, which it can do with victory over Sydney Uni Flames at Bendigo Stadium tonight.

WNBL broadcaster ABC TV could not be contacted for comment.

Related coverage: Victory to seal top-two berth for Spirit

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