Fire the team to watch, says WNBL star Batkovic
WHEN you are a five-time WNBL Most Valuable Player, a four-time WNBL championship winner and a three-time Olympian, there is a good chance you are a straight shooter.
So Suzy Batkovic's response to a question at the WNBL season launch was no surprise.
The Townsville Fire star was asked who is the team to beat for the 2017-18 title.
Her emphatic answer - "us".
The Fire claimed back-to-back WNBL crowns in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons after making the grand final in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
They were in the unaccustomed position of watching last season's decider when Sydney Uni beat the Dandenong Rangers in the showpiece series.
The Fire begin their campaign against Melbourne on October 7 and Batkovic said expectations were high in Townsville to return to the big dance.
"I'm a little bit greedy when it comes to championships. You are always playing to win," Batkovic said.
"We've got a really good culture at our club. We are all on the same page.
"We have definitely recruited well, we've got great depth.
"At training at the moment, it's tough. Everyone is fighting for court time which is going to make us better.
"I think we'll be ultra-competitive and tough to play against."
Townsville has put together a powerful roster with Cayla George returning from the WNBA and Australian under-19 representative Zitina Aokuso joining George and Batkovic in the front court.
Imports Laurin Mincy and Sydney Wiese, along with former Australian under-19 captain Mikhaela Donnelly, will give the Fire a strong guard rotation.
Dual championship winners Micaela Cocks and Mia Murray are also primed for the condensed WNBL season, with home-and-away games to finish on New Year's Eve and the finals to be wrapped up before Australia Day.
The Fire will play Perth in two pre-season games on September 22 and 23.