Launceston Tornadoes are allaying concerns over doubts of Lauren Mansfield’s place in the grand final team.
Mansfield was forced to miss the home preliminary final four days earlier against Nunawading Spectres.
The 28-year-old has been attending a training camp for the Australian Opals over the past fortnight ahead of this year’s world cup in Spain.
Coach Derrick Washington has remained in contact with Mansfield to pencil in the star guard’s availability for the Tornadoes’ biggest game of nearly a decade.
Opals commitments continued to ensure the point guard has not played the past five club games following an earlier tournament in China.
Washington has given his word Mansfield has overcome a troublesome ankle, ruling her out for six games in the middle of the year.
“She’s been telling me she is feeling pretty good,” he said. “It’s a day to day thing when it comes to injuries.
“I would never put a player in that position where they wouldn’t be comfortable and confident on the court.”
The uncertainty has arisen after an interrupted season.
The Tornadoes captain has played only eight SEABL matches after missing the start of the year with her club commitments in Poland.
But Washington insisted Mansfield’s return would be just the “icing on the cake”.
The coach said Mansfield not running drills at training would not affect preparations nor was it a distraction.
“Lauren is a basketball pro – I just tell what we need her to do,” Washington said.
“I know she’ll come out and make it happen.
“She’ll play well like everybody else has this year. At the end of the day, she is playing on the Australian team.”
Washington also expected forward Courtney Williams to be fully fit after being a late withdrawal on the morning of the 10-point win over Nunawading on Saturday night.
The American was ruled out with a back injury that flared up after an initial strain at Thursday night’s practice.
The inclusion of the pair should allow the Tornadoes to be at full strength for the clash with Bendigo Braves.
“She is getting back to where she needs to be,” he said. “It will be a game time decision on how she is feeling but because we know if we don’t have her, we still have players that can step up.
“But she’s doing fine with treatment has been in the pool, just getting her body relaxed and ready to go.”
Washington is full of confidence in his side to upset the championship favourites.
The Braves have lost just once all year – but to the Tornadoes in the opening final.
“I’m sure we got a little bit more respect from their end. I’m sure they are not going to take us lightly just as we can’t take them lightly because they won 20 in a row for the season,” Washington said.
“We know they are a solid ball club, but the scary thing is they don’t know what we’re capable of this game.”
He also laughed off suggestions Launceston played its grand final at its third consecutive attempt to reach the SEABL championship game.
“The grand final is on Saturday,” Washington said. “Every game to get to a championship game is always going to be the toughest.”