Fans full of spirit at elite level

October 02, 2017

ECHUCA was treated to some brilliant basketball on Sunday night as the Bendigo Spirit wrapped up its WNBL season preparations with an 88-69 win against Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence side.

At the Echuca Basketball Stadium, the experienced Spirit proved too much for the young representative side, made up of players aged between 15 and 17 years old.

Completing a weekend double-header which also saw them face the Melbourne Boomers on Friday night, Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said he’d seen plenty from both sides.

‘‘It was a really good atmosphere. Against the Centre of Excellence side it was a good indicator for their young girls as to where they have to be in four or five years time,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re preparing for the WNBL season and we’ve got one set of motivations, but for the younger athletes it was great for them to get a taste for what they’ll need to be able to do going forward.’’

Pitting a professional side against young up-and-comers, Pritchard said his more seasoned players had been matched at times throughout the contest.

‘‘Physically, they’re a long way behind our senior girls who are bigger and stronger, but skill wise they were quite competitive,’’ he said.

‘‘The COE has players like Jazmine Shelley who was part of the Australian under 17 World Championship Gold Medal side.

‘‘There’s some real talent in Australian women’s basketball, and from our perspective the game had a bit less pressure and we could work on a few things.’’

And the coach said the experience in Echuca, which saw them play in front of more than 500 people, had been entirely positive.

‘‘The stand was completely packed and there would have been 200 people on the other side of the court,’’ he said.

‘‘The facilities were in really good condition and the court was too, so we’d love to come back again next year.’’

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