Kelsey Griffin has two training sessions to prove her fitness for this weekend’s crucial final round of the WNBL season.
The Bendigo Spirit star has missed the past two rounds because of a hamstring injury.
Her expected return would be a much-needed boost for the Spirit, who need to win their final two matches against Sydney Uni and Canberra to have any chance of sneaking into the play-offs.
“As long as Kelsey doesn’t re-injure herself at training on Tuesday or Thursday night she’ll be playing,’’ Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.
“She trained last Thursday and Saturday and we thought she was going to play against Adelaide, but on the Sunday morning the physio decided her hamstring was still tender and we were better off giving her another week off.
“By the time this Saturday rolls around it will be 21 days since she hurt her hamstring.”
Griffin has been sorely missed, with the Spirit crashing out of the top four.
While Griffin’s long been regarded as a scoring and rebounding star, it’s her intensity at the defensive end of the floor that Pritchard is most looking forward to regaining.
“We need to win both games, but we need to narrow our focus to making sure we get the first quarter of Friday night’s game right,’’ Pritchard said.
“We’ve had two poor first quarters in our last two games and let the game get away.
“We need to have a great defensive quarter because that’s what has been lacking.
“Kelsey brings defensive power to the team and we’d lost a bit of that.”
To make the play-offs, the Spirit must defeat Sydney Uni in Sydney on Friday night and Canberra Capitals in Canberra on Saturday night plus rely on the Dandenong Rangers and Melbourne Boomers upsetting the South East Queensland Stars.
It’s a stretch for the Spirit, but it is possible.
“We have to do our job first and then see what happens from there,’’ Pritchard said.
“We have to get past Sydney first and then focus on Canberra.
“There will be plenty of distractions at the Canberra games. It’s (coach) Carrie Graf’s last game mixed in with Lauren Jackson’s last commitment with the Caps and there’s a number of Caps’ players who will be retiring.
“We need to stay away from those distractions and focus on what we need to do.”
The Spirit depart Bendigo for Tullamarine at 6am Friday morning. They land in Sydney late morning, with the game to tip-off at 7pm.
Straight after the game the Spirit will drive to Canberra and rest up for Saturday night’s clash at 7pm.