Crucial battle at home with Spirit

BENDIGO Bank Spirit coach Bernie Harrower has urged his players to put the thought of the WNBL minor premiership out of their minds ahead of tonight’s home clash with the Canberra Capitals.

The Spirit only require one win from their final two regular season games to cement the club’s first minor premiership and home court advantage for the play-offs.

After last week’s loss to third-placed Adelaide Lightning, Harrower is desperate for his players to focus on how they prepare and play tonight rather than the minor premiership.

“We have to play finals intensity basketball this week,’’ Harrower said. “This game is not all about the minor premiership.

“We only have two games before the play-offs and we need to get back to the style of basketball we know we can play. We need to build some momentum for the play-offs, starting with this game.

“If our players aren’t ready to play they might find themselves sitting on the bench in the play-offs.”

The Capitals stunned the Spirit at Bendigo Stadium in November and Harrower said his side could not afford another slip up tonight. 

“Canberra is not a team you can take lightly. They had a good win against Townsville last week and Townsville will be in the play-offs,’’ he said.

“They showed when they beat us here earlier in the season that they have the ability to beat any side in the competition.

“We have to be ready for them and come out all guns blazing.”

Harrower hopes the loss to Adelaide turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

“We really hadn’t been tested for a while before last week against Adelaide,’’ Harrower said.

“I know we had some games where we won by less than 10 points, but in those games I thought we were in control for most of the time.

“It was better for us that we were tested like that last weekend rather than the first week of the play-offs.

“Adelaide showed us up in a lot of areas and we now have two weeks to work hard on those aspects of our game.

“The girls have responded well to that.  Hopefully, you’ll see a different team against Canberra.”

Tonight’s game starts at 7.30pm at Bendigo Stadium in Marong Road. 

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