Canberra Capitals eye finals berth on important WNBL weekend double
The Canberra Capitals can take a major step towards a drought-breaking finals berth if they secure an important double this weekend, but coach Paul Goriss is reluctant to overuse his returning players.
Kristy Wallace will play her first game for the club when the Capitals clash against the Dandenong Rangers at the National Convention Centre on Friday night, vowing to repay Goriss for sticking by her through injury.
Kristy Wallace, left, is ready to make her Capitals debut.Credit:Peter G. Aiken
Wallace ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament earlier this year and the WNBA draftee is hoping to boost Canberra's finals hopes.
The challenge of her comeback week is two games in three days, Goriss saying they will wait until they arrive in Townsville before making a decision about whether Wallace will play against the Fire on Sunday.
The Capitals are third on the ladder and have their noses slightly ahead of a cluster of teams, including the Rangers, the Fire and the Adelaide Lightning.
Beating the Rangers and the Fire on the same weekend would give Canberra an important buffer as they target their first finals appearance since 2011.
Goriss, however, is also concerned about pushing his players too hard, in particular Wallace and Marianna Tolo after the duo returned from knee reconstructions.
"The way the ladder is, anything from third to sixth is really close and probably just one win separating those teams," Goriss said.
"It's a funny part of the season where there are some upsets and people beating teams you wouldn't think. The Christmas period … we've got to make sure we prepare as best we can.
"We haven't had that many blowout losses, but we've got the kind of group that needs a punch in the face to get moving again. Adelaide definitely punched us in the face [last week].
"But we can't afford to have that punch in the face to want to play better."
The Capitals have struggled with inconsistency, losing by 20 points to Adelaide last weekend and then beating Perth by 32 points two days later.
They have lost three of their past five games, but are hoping to turn the corner now Tolo and Wallace are back on the court and their new squad has had time to gel.
Australian Opals coach is also keeping a close eye on the Capitals and Dandenong gun Sara Blicavs, who has also recovered from a knee reconstruction.
Marianna Tolo has made a successful comeback to the court.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong
"Leading into the World Cup this year we had so many injuries, no bigger than [Tolo and Blicavs] then you put [Capitals guard] Leilani Mitchell on top of that,” Brondello told The WNBL Show.
"They are tough competitors. Marianna has just picked up where she left off, you wouldn’t think she’s coming back from an ACL. It’s just fantastic for those two. I spoke to Sara after the game and she’s like a kid in a candy store just being back on court, it’s been a long wait for her, 13 months."
Wallace is keen to repay the Capitals for helping her through a tough rehabilitation period. She had verbally agreed to a contract, but didn't sign it until after injuring her knee.
"The Caps are so loyal and committed. They stuck with me even though I did my ACL, that just shows the character of [Goriss] and the coaching staff. I'm glad they stuck with me," Wallace said.
WNBL ROUND 11
Friday: Canberra Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at National Convention Centre, 7pm.
Sunday: Townsville Fire v Canberra Capitals at Townsville Stadium, 3pm.
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