AS the Women's National Basketball League season heads towards the playoffs, the Bendigo Spirit is hopeful that hometown support can assist the club’s push towards a fourth straight finals appearance.
Crowds in Bendigo have been up 19% on average on last season’s numbers, however attendances have dipped in recent weeks over the busy Christmas period.
The Spirit host four clashes in the season’s last six rounds, including games against reigning champion Townsville, the in-form Sydney Uni and a crucial game on Saturday night against in-state rivals Melbourne.
Spirit guard Belinda Snell said the crowd present at Bendigo’s win over Canberra on Saturday played a key role in the triumph, and was hoping for more strong support as the Spirit's playoffs campaign ramps up.
“The fans have been wonderful, on Saturday night it was a great crowd that we had and that really helped us out in that last quarter,” she said.
“Their noise and the atmosphere has been great, and hopefully that continues and we get a great crowd for Saturday’s game and for the rest of the season.”
The month of January is traditionally a run of home games for Bendigo and this year is no different, with three of Bendigo’s four games during the month coming at the Bendigo Stadium.
An average of 742 people have filled the Bendigo Stadium for Spirit home games in the 2015/16 season, up on last season’s average figure of 626 people attending games.
Bendigo is one of four clubs to see significant crowd increases this year, along with Melbourne, Sydney Uni and Perth. Townsville remains a clear leader in average crowd per game figures.
Following what was an important win over Canberra to kick off the new year, the Spirit (10-7) will be out for revenge against a Melbourne Boomers team that has taken the chocolates in both their previous meetings this season.
The Boomers have played a physical brand of basketball in the two previous clashes between the sides, and Bendigo is prepared for another taxing hit out.
“We want to take winning form into the upcoming break, but we also just need to beat Melbourne. We haven’t beaten them yet, and we need to make sure we can take care of business,” Snell said.
“Our last game against them was a little better than the first one but we can’t afford to not come to play on Saturday.
“I think it will be a very physical game… it will absolutely be on, and hopefully we get plenty of support.”
Bendigo hosts Melbourne this Saturday from 7pm before a league-wide bye the following week, and returns to Bendigo to play Sydney Uni on Friday, January 22.
The Spirit then hosts Adelaide on Sunday, February 7 before the regular season home finale against Townsville on February 14.
Tickets to home games start from $5 for children, with a family ticket just $30. More details can be found at Spirit's website.