BENDIGO Spirit coach Kennedy Kereama welcomes the challenge of tipping off the 2023-24 WNBL season against the side with the biggest target on its back - the defending champion Townsville Fire.
The WNBL unveiled its 2023-24 fixture on Wednesday, with Bendigo to open its season at home on Saturday, November 4, against Townsville.
The Fire are the WNBL's defending champions after defeating Southside 2-0 in last season's best-of-three grand final series.
"We get to test our mettle early against the team that is going to be defending a championship and that's really exciting," Kereama said on Thursday.
"Their team will have changed a bit from last season - no different to us - and it's really exciting we get the chance to play them on our homecourt in what is a great opportunity for us first-up."
We get to test our mettle early against the team that is going to be defending a championship and that's really exciting- Kennedy Kereama - Bendigo Spirit coach
The Spirit will play 21 games in the regular season, with their busiest stretch of matches coming with five games in 13 days between January 7 and January 20.
"Having depth in your team and roster really helps navigate through those clusters of games, but those are the types of stretches that really help prepare you for finals when you're playing multiple games in a short span," Kereama said.
"We dealt with more trying conditions last season with seven games in 21 days at one stage, so five in 13... we'll be right."
The Spirit are coming off an 11-10 record and fifth-placed finish last season in what was Kereama's first at the helm of Bendigo.
From last season's squad the Spirit has announced the returns of Kelsey Griffin and Alex Wilson for the upcoming season.
Pre-season training for the Spirit will begin in September, with Kereama indicating Bendigo could play as many as six warm-up games before going into battle against Townsville on November 4 to start their 17th season in the competition.
Bendigo's home games at Red Energy Arena:
November 4 - v Townsville, 5pm.
November 25 - v Sydney Uni, 6.30pm.
December 17 - v Southside, 5.30pm.
January 10 - v Adelaide, 5pm.
January 14 - v Canberra, 3.30pm.
January 25 - v Canberra, 6pm.
February 3 - v Melbourne, 7.30pm.
February 24 - v Perth, 7.30pm.
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