Launceston Tornadoes captain Lauren Mansfield will not line up in Saturday night’s crunch home preliminary final clash against Nunawading, with an Opals world cup selection camp taking precedence.
Torns management had a leave request to allow Mansfield to play denied by Basketball Australia earlier this week, with the 28-year-old flying to Canberra on Thursday for a seven-day trial at the Centre of Excellence.
Mansfield, who has missed several games this season through injury or national duties, is in the running to be one of 12 players selected in Australia’s squad for the FIBA women’s world cup in Tenerife, Spain, next month.
She said missing out was a double-edged sword.
“It’s certainly bittersweet. I’ve had some issues with my feet so hopefully I will be able to perform to my best at camp,” Mansfield said.
“It will be full-on with lots of drills and a few practice games planned.
“I’ve spent the last couple of weeks back in Launceston with the girls following the China trip and they are ready to go.”
Mansfield was not part of Launceston’s semi-final take-down of then-undefeated Bendigo two weeks ago, but is expected to be available for the women’s SEABL championship game in Melbourne next Saturday – should the Torns advance for the first time since 2010.
A sell-out crowd of 1100 people are predicted at Elphin Sports Centre for the do-or-die showdown with the Spectres.
Mansfield said failures in the past two conference finals were a driving factor for her teammates to succeed.
“They showed what they can achieve in their win against Bendigo so I’m very excited for what’s to come,” she said.
“We have proven we have the talent to win the whole thing, which has been our goal right from the start.
“In the past couple of years we’ve been working towards it and maybe we’ve been disappointed to not have won it in the past couple of years as we’ve had good teams, but haven’t been able to take it that step further.
“We are in a great position and I think we deserve to win – I’m hoping our home crowd will help us get over the line.”
In the two sides’ only encounter this season, Spectres prevailed at home by 20 points in round 9 with Launceston and competition MVP Lauren Nicholson scoring a game-high 27 points.
Coach Derrick Washington said his charges can triumph without their inspirational skipper and that he is mindful of Nunawading playmakers Izzy Chicott and Marena Whittle.
“We obviously have been doing a lot of work to study how Nunawading play so that we can contain their better players and also free up our players to create good scoring options,” he said.
“We are coming into this game with confidence but also understand that we all need to execute the plans we have put in place to get the win.”
WHAT: Women’s SEABL preliminary final | Launceston Tornadoes v Nunawading Spectres.
WHEN: Saturday, from 6.30pm. Doors open 5pm.
WHERE: Elphin Sports Centre.
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