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A TRIO of Gippsland basketballers will get back to their roots this Sunday when Traralgon hosts a Women’s National Basketball League pre-season match between Bendigo Spirit and Dandenong Rangers.
Mirboo North’s Belinda Snell will join Leongatha sisters Kelly and Andrea Wilson in the Bendigo squad for the side’s last proper hit-out before heading to Brisbane for the season opener next month.
Snell, an Australian Opals regular, said the Traralgon visit was special for the trio.
“We want to show local basketballers, boys and girls, that you can play the game at the highest level no matter where you live. The Spirit prides itself on being country Victoria’s team and we want locals to know there is a clear pathway between playing in the local leagues and playing in a national competition,” Snell said.
“Most of our team grew up in regional Victoria and we are all really looking forward to catching up with as many locals as we can, and to show them what we can do.”
The game will cap off a two-day visit to the region with junior and coaches clinics slated for Saturday.
Spirit head coach Simon Pritchard said the weekend was all about community engagement.
“(It’s) to sort of help out the local coaches and give them a couple of drills or things they can use with their teams, so that’s the first side of it and the community engagement side that we really like to do,” he said.
Sunday afternoon will mark the first time the Spirit has had its entire preferred roster on the floor at once.
Pritchard said he would be looking to comb out the cobwebs and play expansive basketball to get his troops raring for the season proper.
“It will be good for us just to see what we look like with our full crew,” he said.
“For me I’m really looking for mistakes, I need the girls to be trying our stuff, making mistakes so then I’ve got two weeks to get the corrections in place.
“We’ll be going hammer and tongs trying to win the game… play at a tempo that’s probably a little bit up to try and generate those mistakes; mistakes create learning and learning creates improvement.”
Latrobe City mayor Dale Harriman said it was a coup to attract a match of this calibre to the region.
“We know that Traralgon has first-class facilities worthy of hosting a WNBL pre-season game. It’s great news that Bendigo Spirit will visit and play here. It’s testament to our reputation as host for major regional sporting events,” he said.
Snell will stay on for additional clinics on Monday.
Sunday’s match will tip off at 2pm at Traralgon Basketball Stadium.