EXTINGUISH the Fire early or be prepared to get burnt.
That’s the message Dandenong Rangers coach Mark Wright has for the Bendigo Bank Spirit ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Townsville Fire in the Women’s National Basketball League grand final.
Wright, who has been on the end of defeats by the Spirit and Fire in the past nine days, favours Bendigo to win its first title.
But he has a lot of respect for the Fire.
“If I was a betting man, which I’m not, I would have a wager on Bendigo,’’ he said.
“That being said, I’ve seen what Townsville did to Adelaide and I’ve seen what Townsville did to us – they made us have a bad game.
“If the Fire can recreate that intensity and ride that wave of good fortune, then they can put themselves in a winning position. Bendigo has the tools to put them away; whether they do or not is another matter.
“If you let Townsville hang around they have a great belief they can win the game.
“Bendigo needs to make the most of their chances and snuff out Townsville early on.”
While Bendigo has more offensive firepower than the Fire, Wright said the Spirit would not find it easy to crack the Fire’s defence.
“Townsville have been able to shut down several big-name players in the past two weeks,’’
“Townsville won’t be concerned (by coming up against Kristi Harrower).
“They’ve got a great defensive game plan and its worked well two weeks in a row against quality opposition.
“They’ll stick to their plan and it will just be whether Bendigo can climb above that and not get caught up in that messy style of game that Townsville likes.
“Bendigo will need Kelly Wilson to knock down some threes and for Gabe Richards to be a presence inside.
“If the score is low and close, Townsville will do to Bendigo what they did to Adelaide and us. They’ll hit big shots down the stretch and make you miss them.
“Two weeks ago I thought it was amazing that they beat Adelaide, but after watching them yesterday I’m not so amazed.
“They’ve got their tails up and they’re full of confidence. They’re a chance to knock Bendigo off.”
While Wright believes there won’t be much between the two sides, the bookies have other ideas.
Sportsbet.com yesterday installed the Spirit a $1.25 favourite to win the grand final. The Fire opened $3.60.
Meanwhile, fans who haven’t yet purchased tickets for the grand final could have one last chance to be at the game.
Bendigo’s allocation for the grand final is sold out, but more tickets could be made available tomorrow once the club finds out how many tickets Townsville requires.
Spare tickets will be sold tomorrow, with fans invited to place their name on a waiting list at Bendigo Stadium.
Sunday’s grand final starts at 3.45pm.