Spirit of the game

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 01-Dec-2017

Rachel Banham, Betnijah Laney and OTIS Foundation's Rachel Mason.

THE Bendigo Spirit has been served a timely reminder of how good winning feels.

But point guard Rachel Banham says sometimes it’s nice to play for more than just the win column.

This week sees the Spirit play one of its marquee fixtures on the WNBL calendar, the annual OTIS Foundation game.

The club will sport brand new pink uniforms and spend the night raising money to back the foundation, which provides support to women with cancer and their families.

And with the Spirit coming off a hard-fought win against Canberra and heading into a clash with a Dandenong side it took it up to a fortnight ago, the timing couldn’t be better.

“It was a good feeling, it has been a tough few weeks so to get a win we feel like we can keep that form rolling and get a few in  row now,” Banham said.

That good feeling translates into the OTIS Foundation game, which Banham says she is looking forward to.

“I’ve heard a little bit about the OTIS Foundation and I think it’s really cool and they are doing some great stuff,” she said.

“It’s fun too to be able to play for something that’s bigger than just basketball, thinking about other people and what other people are going through.

“It’s about doing what we can and spreading the word so people can donate and be aware of the situation.”

The free-scoring import point guard has seen the difficulty of the season first hand, playing in every game for Bendigo while the likes of Gabe Richards, Kelsey Griffin and Betnijah Laney have missed through injury and illness.

Bendigo’s last two matches have been far more encouraging than its recent run of form, losing to Dandenong in Traralgon by 10 points before defeating Canberra in a thrilling 83-82 result that served as a welcome birthday present for coach Simon Pritchard.

“I feel like it proved to us that we can win all these games but we have to put ourselves in a position to do that,” she said.

Pritchard agrees, saying more than anything the win has given the team some much needed momentum.

“You only need to look at the table and the talent across the league due to injuries at the moment to see that we’re not that far away still,” he said.

“If we get one, two, three wins together in a row, then we’re starting to get back to where we feel we should be.”

Bendigo’s history against Dandenong is a factor, and Pritchard is comfortable defending the Rangers’ offence, which is a relatively simple motion-based system.

“We’re very confident against Dandenong and they have played pretty poorly up here over the last three years,” he said.

“We’re very keen for them to play poorly again. Our defence is the key there, if we can get it firing early – they’ve got a relatively simple offensive structure that’s not too bad to shut down – we think we can take them out of their stuff.”

Saturday night’s game tips off at 7pm, with the special edition pink OTIS Foundation jerseys being auctioned off.


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