Off-court dramas no issue for Spirit: Richards

Bendigo Bank Spirit star Gabe Richards says the team isn’t being distracted by the on-going saga about whether the club will be allowed to host the WNBL grand final.

It emerged last week that the Spirit might not host the season decider even if it wins the second semi-final, with Basketball Australia withholding the right to make the final venue decision.

BA’s spokesperson cited several factors which influence where the grand final is played, including a minimum venue capacity of 3000.

While the Spirit’s board was yesterday finalising its submission to BA to guarantee Bendigo Stadium could accommodate that number of spectators, Richards said the team hasn’t even discussed the issue.

Many feared the Spirit, which is on top of the WNBL ladder with a 17-2 record, could become distracted by the issue.

“We haven’t even talked about it and I think none of us actually thought we’d even be on top of the ladder,” Richards said.

“I think we’re all just focused on finishing the season with a good record and then once the season’s finished deal with all that stuff.”

The Spirit has only hosted one final before, a 21-point win over Logan in 2011.

While extra seating for a grand final could cost $50,000, hosting the event would be a major boost the Spirit’s program.

“Don’t get me wrong, playing at home would be a big deal, it would be amazing,” Richards said.

Dandenong is likely to finish the season in second place, meaning the grand final would be played in Victoria.

The Rangers’ home court at Dandenong Basketball Stadium normally only holds a maximum of 2500 and it is believed BA is considering playing the WNBL grand final at the new Knox Stadium which holds 3200.

“It would be awesome to play at home, but I think it’s also comforting to know that either way we are going to play in Victoria – we’re not going to have to travel,” Richards said.

“It still feels like its ages away. Also we all know that anyone could get injured at any moment, we all know how fickle it is, so until we’re actually there we won’t believe it.”

The Spirit has its final road trip of the regular season this weekend when it travels to Perth to take on West Coast on Friday night, followed by a clash with the Lightning in Adelaide on Sunday.

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