The long wait for the season-opening tip-off has finally come to an end for the Villawood Bendigo Spirit.
It's been a pre-season like no other with plenty of uncertainty amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but now the team is up in Queensland and ready to hit the court.
The team will tip-off its 2020 WNBL season on Thursday night against fellow Victorian squad, the Southside Flyers at the Townsville Stadium.
"The Flyers are certainly championship contenders but during pre-season we played two scrimmage matches against them and we were able to hold our own," Bendigo Spirit coach Tracy York said.
"They have a very talented roster but so do we and we will be ready to play some good basketball against them on Thursday night."
Southside's roster features several Opals players which includes Jenna O'Hea, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole and Liz Cambage.
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"They will be tough and in a way they will be the measuring stick for the season to see where we are at but with a game every two or three days we will just have to grow and learn from each match and move onto the next," York said.
Because of the shortened nature of the season, the Spirit will have quick turnarounds and limited time to train between each game.
"We just want to make sure the things that we can control, such as effort areas are as good as our competitors if not better," York said.
All of the WNBL's eight teams have relocated to north Queensland for the six-week shortened season, which will see the grand final contested just before Christmas on December 20.
The partnership between the Queensland government and Basketball Australia will see games played in Cairns, Mackay and Townsville.
The Spirit head into the season with high confidence after months of online training sessions throughout the year and with a month of in-person training sessions in Bendigo and Brisbane.
"Because we've had such a short time together physically on the floor our focus is making sure that we're all familiar with what we're doing and that we can execute our games according to our plan," York said.
York said as there was such a quick turnaround between games it provided the opportunity to be flexible with how the team approached selecting the starting-five players.
However, there was one player who York said was certainly going to feature in the starting-five against the Flyers on Thursday night in Townsville.
"Clearly Tessa Lavey will be one, but there are a few players on our roster who are strong starters," she said.
"We have the flexibility to mix up the players this season as with so many games so close to each other they will be different from one night to the next."
Villawood Bendigo Spirit v Southside Flyers for a 9pm (AEDT) tip-off Thursday night at the Townsville Stadium.
The Spirit's second game is against the Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday November 14 for a 3pm (AEDT) tip-off again at the Townsville Stadium.
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