LEADING scorer out, coach out and two Opals players added to the opposition line-up – that’s the scenario facing the Bendigo Lady Braves when they play Knox Raiders on Saturday night.
Lady Braves coach Jonathan Goodman and star guard Chantella Perera will miss the game to attend the wedding of former Bendigo Spirit and Bendigo Lady Braves guard Renae Camino.
Guard Heather Oliver also remains sidelined because of a calf strain.
To rub salt into the Lady Braves’ wounds, two of Bendigo’s favourite basketballers – Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson – are back from the Australian Opals trip to the United States and will suit up for Knox.
A positive for the Lady Braves is emerging centre Alex Bunton is also back from the US tour and returns to the home side’s starting five.
“We asked the league for the club to have this weekend off (bye), but it didn’t work out that way,’’ Goodman said.
“It’s going to be a cracker of a game. Knox at full strength is a title contender and they really need a win, so it’s going to be a tough game."
Assistant coach Joe Turner will take the reins for Goodman on Saturday night.
Richards said the tour with the Opals was one of the highlights of her career.
“It was an exhausting tour because we played so many games, but I loved it,’’ she said.
“It was exciting and it was a great experience to get the opportunity to play against some great WNBA teams.
“I was really happy with the opportunities I was given and with the way I played. The game against Minnesota was the highlight. They’re the defending champions, so to play them on their home court was very exciting.”
Richards can’t wait to get back on court.
“Kelly and I have been resting up and getting back on Aussie time,’’ Richards said.
“Knox haven’t had a great start to the season, we’ve lost a few players from last year, so it’s a transition phase for the club.
"Bendigo has a great group this year, with a lot of girls that are familiar to us, so it will be good to catch up with them again.”
The Lady Braves-Knox game tips off at Bendigo Stadium at 6pm. The men's clash between the Braves and Raiders follows at 8pm.