Saturday, October 5, 2013

New-look Capitals shot down in Flames after sluggish start

TEETHING problems at both ends and a Sydney shooting clinic condemned the Canberra Capitals to a loss in its season-opener at AIS Arena on Saturday.

Sydney displayed more intensity and hunger than the new-look hosts from the outset, who were made to pay for a particularly lethargic first half.

The Capitals had no answer for the long-range shooting of Flames guards Katie-Rae Ebzery (29 points) and skipper Alicia Poto (18), especially in the first half when they combined for 27 points.

Boasting a far more settled line-up the Flames scored the first 11 points of the match, and took the game by the throat with a 17-2 second term burst to build a 20-point lead.

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Canberra's offence was always going to take some time to click with four new players in its starting five - Natalie Hurst, Abby Bishop, Isabelle Strunc and Alex Bunton.

But it was the lack of intensity on the defensive end that was a real concern in the first week of the season.

"They shot the ball exceptionally well,'' Capitals coach Carrie Graf said.

"There were times in the zone in rebounds they had one player going up with three of ours, and they'd get the possession. That was a real difference maker.

"We struggled to make shots we should make and defensively we have a lot of work to do.''

Canberra threatened to get back into the contest on several occasions, led by skipper Jess Bibby, who scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half.

Trailing by 16 at three-quarter-time Canberra closed to 11 early in the final term, but the Flames had all the answers, hitting 12-28 from the three-point line.

Poto and Ebzery's ability to score from the perimeter and the floor gave Canberra all sorts of headaches.

Former Capital Casey Samuels also had a strong game in her first outing for Sydney, contributing 13 points from the bench.

French import Strunc may be sidelined for a few weeks after dislocating her shoulder early in the match.

Young post Carley Mijovic was one of the positives offensively for Canberra, racking up 15 points and five rebounds on her Capitals debut.

The Capitals face the ''doomsday double'' road trip against West Coast and Adelaide next weekend.

AT A GLANCE

SYDNEY FLAMES 83 (Katie-Rae Ebzery 29, Alicia Poto 18, Casey Samuels 13) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 68 (Jess Bibby 22, Carley Mijovic 15, Natalie Hurst 10, Abby Bishop 10) at AIS Arena on Saturday. Crowd: 1129.


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