Northern Mystics failed to keep up with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic as they go down 60-64.
This game was all about settling and getting the basics right.
Unlike other ANZ Premiership matches, there was no moment of the match that can be highly recalled as memorable. Instead, both teams took the first half to settle into the season and find their feet.
Storm Purvis calling the game made the remark that for both teams “it is all about playing with consistency,” at the end of the second quarter.
The Magic debut everyone has been waiting for.
For some excited Aussie fans, it will have been a game they were looking forward to as Australian captain Caitlin Bassett made her debut for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, alongside former Fever and Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate Erena Mikaere.
However, it took almost six minutes for Bassett to even get a look at her first goal with Sulu Fitzpatrick keeping her busy the entire game. The first five goals went shooting partner Chiara Semple who looked calm and collected throughout her game.
But it didn’t take long for player of the match Sam Winders and teammate Grace Kara to get in the groove of throwing perfectly crafted lobs from the circle edge into Bassett who dominated the second half.
What was delightful to see was Caitlin Bassett playing with confidence, playing with a smile and ultimately looking like she belonged out on court. In her last couple of games for the Giants and the Australian Diamonds, often we saw Bassett get upset with herself and look slightly removed from the team, so it was great to see her get sixty minutes of court time and for it to be a solid game.
Winders who fist pumped when she heard Bassett was joining the team made the comment, “She adds so much down that end and is not just a great player but a good person to have in the team.”
Bailey Mes returning strong for the Northern Mystics
Someone who also had a long-awaited return to court in the ANZ Premiership was Bailey Mes, who last year was injured and underwent knee surgery.
However, Mes looked like she had never left the court as she dominated the first half with great feeds into youngster Grace Nweke and some outstanding long shots.
It was also her good eye that pointed out to the umpire that the post misaligned in the first quarter.
Mes was switched out at the end of the second quarter for Filda Vui but did come back on to add some grit to the Mystics fourth quarter.
Playing the full sixty minutes out goal shooter, Nweke had a very shaky start but managed to redeem herself, shooting 49 from 58 attempts (88%). In the first quarter, it often looked like her position was forced with many drop balls and missed shots, but with some clever drives and some self-confidence, she put Mystics within reach of taking the win multiple times in the fourth quarter. In just her second season of the ANZ Premiership, she is a player to keep an eye on, particularly as she develops her partnership with Mes.
Lots to work on ahead of Round 2
The Magic were able to pull ahead quite a few times, but in particular 19-year-old Khiarna Williams was a stand out player in the championship quarter (3rd) Williams managed to sink the last three goals and give Magic a 7-goal lead going into the fourth quarter.
However, both captains had pretty similar comments post game stating there was lots to learn from in this game.
For the Mystics, Sulu Fitzpatrick stated: “we really need to work on being disciplined and grind when it’s tight because that’s where we have a brain spasm.”
Sam Winders, captain of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, more positively said there was definitely room for improvement: “It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t perfect but we got enough flow on and follow up…maintained it to get the win in the end.”
With both teams looking pretty scrappy in round 1 the best is yet to come.