Townsville ready to Fire against Spirit

PICTURE GALLERY: Bendigo Spirit training session

NEWS: All systems go for Spirit

NOTHING less than a four-quarter performance will be enough for the Townsville Fire to turn the tables on the Bendigo Spirit in Sunday’s WNBL grand final.

That was the frank assessment of Townsville assistant coach Claudia Brassard ahead of the Fire’s arrival in Bendigo for a second-straight grand final clash with the Spirit.

The Fire were the only team to defeat Bendigo this season, twice upstaging the defending champions in the regular season.

However, the last time the two sides met, the Spirit belted the Fire.

“We have to have a team performance and Bendigo has to have a slightly off day,’’ Brassard said.

“We can’t rely on Suzy (Batkovic) or Rachael (McCully). We need everyone to contribute at both ends of the floor.

“Bendigo’s strength, like us, is that they have a deep team. It’s going to take us 40 minutes of quality basketball to win.

“Bendigo’s such a smart team. They can be down going into the last quarter, but they have the confidence and poise to know they can win from any position.”

The Fire qualified for the grand final on the back of two gutsy cut-throat final wins against Melbourne Boomers and Dandenong.

Brassard said the Fire’s form since the defeat to Bendigo had been first-class.

“Our last loss was against Bendigo in mid-January, so we’re playing well at the right time of the year,’’ she said.

“We’ve got some new faces in the side this year and it took us a while to come together.

“Since Christmas our defence has been much improved and we’re playing some good basketball.”

The Fire went into last year’s grand final running on empty having endured a gruelling travel schedule.

While the club has been on the road in the past two weeks, Brassard said the squad enters Sunday’s game stronger both physically and mentally.

“Last year we came into the grand final on the back of so much travel,’’ she said.

“We had a big road trip in the final round and then we went to Adelaide, to Dandenong and on to Bendigo.

“I think the girls only slept in their own beds for four nights in the final month last year.

“We certainly feel a lot fresher this year than we did last year.”

As expected, Spirit star Kelsey Griffin has commanded the most attention in the Fire’s team meetings this week.

Griffin dominated last year’s grand final against the Fire and continued that big game form in the Spirit's semi-final win.

“There’s no doubt Kelsey is going to cause us a headache,’’ Brassard said.

“The coaching staff have been talking about her all week.

“She was unstoppable against Dandenong.

“You just have to be as physical as you can and try to keep her off the boards.

“It’s not easy… she’s such a great player.”

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