KELSEY Griffin is the most important player in this Sunday’s WNBL grand final, according to Dandenong Rangers coach Mark Wright.
The Bendigo Spirit forward dominated the semi-final clash with Dandenong a fortnight ago and was named grand final MVP in last year’s championship game against Townsville.
Wright said the Fire must contain Griffin’s influence if they’re to upstage the Spirit on Sunday.
“Kelsey Griffin is a tremendous X factor for Bendigo,’’ Wright said.
“She seems to almost single-handedly be able to carry Bendigo when things aren’t going right.
“She’s able to put on her Superman suit and do extraordinary things for a few minutes to turn the game.
“I think if you ask every coach in the league if they could add one player to their team it would be Kelsey Griffin.”
Wright has seen the Spirit and Rangers first hand in the past fortnight.
He’s adamant the Fire have the game to topple the Spirit.
“Townsville is in a much better position than what they were last year,’’ Wright said.
“They’re in good form, they’re winning tight games and doing all the things they need to do to go into the game with confidence.
“They’ve beaten Bendigo twice and with Bendigo losing (Elyse) Penaluna, Townsville has every reason to feel that this is their year.”
Wright’s Rangers have failed to beat the Spirit the past 10 times they’ve met.
He said the Spirit’s unity was an underestimated factor in the club’s success.
“Bendigo has a real loyalty process and everyone plays so hard,’’ Wright said.
“That’s the tough thing about beating Bendigo, everyone plays so hard.
“They’ve had some poor games this year, but they’ve still won.
“It comes as a real surprise to them when they play poorly and it comes as a real annoyance.
“They get their backsides kicked and as a group they get back into line very quickly.
“That’s something that other teams struggle with.
“Bendigo has that team loyalty in droves. You have to give a lot of credit to Bernie and Kristi (Harrower) for their great leadership.”
Wright said he’d slightly lean to Bendigo if forced to make a tip.
“Bendigo with their crowd and their burning desire to go back-to-back… you’d have to put your money on Bendigo,’’ Wright said.
“But Townsville will come in all guns blazing and they are so dangerous with their perimeter game and the big inside influence of Suzy Batkovic.
“Gabe Richards is big and strong for Bendigo, but Suzy is even bigger and stronger.
“Townsville is probably the only team that can match Bendigo’s frontline.
“It should be a fantastic game.”
Sunday's game starts at 3pm.
Limited tickets are still available at the Bendigo Stadium.
Adult tickets are $49.50, concession tickets are $35 and children tickets are $28.