AS BENDIGO Spirit battles to lift themselves up the WNBL ladder, Kelly Wilson finds herself in unfamiliar territory.
Rarely - if ever - throughout her stellar 18-season career has the star point guard found herself on a struggling team, and certainly not in more recent times, after being part of championship-winning teams with the Canberra Capitals in 2018-19 and Townsville Fire in 2017-18.
The last time a team she played for missed the playoffs was in Bendigo in 2015-16, when the Spirit finished in sixth place at 12-12.
Even then the Spirit remained a finals contender until the very end of the season, after occupying a top two spot on the ladder at the Christmas break.
That campaign followed a grand final appearance with the Spirit against Townsville in 2014-15 and of course back-to-back championship wins in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and finals appearances in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
While Wilson concedes the Spirit's 3-12 season to date has been frustrating, it has only strengthened her resolve in attempting to turn things around.
"Looking back I have been extremely fortunate in my career to be a part of many winning teams, and I'm not a great loser. I am very competitive and I like to win games," she said.
"But we do have a positive mindset and if we keep working hard and keep playing out games and have that mentality that we just need to keep going, we are going to win games and we showed that on Saturday night.
"I think we have learned a lot this season and with more time we could look back at some of the games we lost earlier in the season and see there were things we could do differently.
"But that's why we are here every week at training trying to get better and trying to achieve that."
Wilson, who has played exactly half of her 18 seasons in the WNBL in Bendigo, saw plenty of encouraging signs in the Spirit's gritty breakthrough one-point win against Townsville last Saturday - a victory which snapped a club record nine-straight losses.
"Obviously we'd had a few losses in a row, but we knew if we kept working hard that our next win would (eventually) come," she said.
"It was a really close game and we did really well to stick with it and get the game in the end.
"We always have the mentality that we want to play all the way to the end, regardless of what the scoreline is.
"For us to come away with that win, after we have been in similar situations throughout the season and haven't necessarily won the game, was really pleasing and that's what we are going to look to keep on doing moving forward."
The Spirit are embracing the opportunity to test themselves against a genuine championship contender in Canberra this Friday night at Bendigo Stadium, after falling to the Capitals by just 10 points a fortnight ago in as game which was for the most part evenly contested.
Wilson indicated the focus for the Spirit going forward was on improvement and development, with a pass mark not contingent on the team achieving a certain number of wins.
"I go into every game thinking we can win and that is exactly what I am going to go into Friday night's game against Canberra thinking." she said.
"If we start looking at win-loss records and things like that it gets a bit complicated, but if we go week-to-week and focus on what's ahead of us at that point in time, I think that's the right way to go about it.
"We were competitive the whole game (last time against Canberra), but personally I don't want to come out of a game and say we were just competitive, I want to put us in a position to win games.
"We know Canberra is a great team and very talented individually, but if we can do what we do best and concentrate on our own game, we have a chance of winning."
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