ALL IN EFFORT FOR FLAMES
THE Townsville Flames are adamant winning in Gladstone without star centre Darcee Garbin is not mission impossible.
Garbin earlier this week announced her withdrawal from the Flames because of World University Games commitments, leaving a huge void ahead of tomorrow’s women’s QBL quarterfinal against Gladstone.
The WNBL championship winner was a MVP contender thanks to her averages of 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, and Fire captain Rachael McCully knows that type of class cannot be fully replaced.
But the Flames still need to find a way to fill the gap, and the responsibility rests largely with experienced campaigners like McCully and Mia Murray.
“Obviously the offence is going to flow through us a little more, but we all need to step up there as well to make sure it doesn’t just fall on two shoulders and it’s spread evenly,” McCully said.
“If we can have five players in double figures that will go a long way for us at the offensive end.
“We knew it was coming for a while and we’re fully aware that everyone needs to step up.
“We do lose a little bit of height there, but our defence will just have to be on point.”
Lisa Brennan is expected to start in place of Garbin, meaning she will be tasked with shutting down Gladstone centre Cassie Rochel.
But McCully and Flames coach Mike St Maurice both know the top threat comes from Gladstone import Tabitha Richardson- Smith.
Gladstone won both meetings with the Flames earlier this year and the American guard scored 40- plus points in each of them.
“She’s a bit of a dynamite ( player). We held her to 42 on both occasions,” St- Maurice said tongue in cheek.
“We’ll have to do a better job than that, but she’s not the only one.
“Cassie Rochel is dangerous, Charmian Mellars scored 15 against us and 12 rebounds, so we can’t let everyone go off.
“We have to lock down and have some individual accountability in those match- ups.”
The Flames came within touching distance of securing a home final thanks to last weekend’s successful three- game road trip, although Gladstone’s win over Cairns consigned the Flames to an away final on Gladstone’s home court.
“They’ll be quite loud, they’ll be quite boisterous and really in your face from the start,” St Maurice said.
“They cheer throughout the home game whether we’re winning or losing.”
McCully added: “That’s what finals is about, you want to play the best teams and it just happens to be on the road,” she said.
“It’s going to be a fantastic match ... so we’ll see who comes out on top.”