Helen Naylor believes the City of Sheffield Hatters’ squad depth will lead them to Women’s Basketball League Trophy glory.
Hatters travel to Birmingham Arena this Sunday to take on table-topping Nottingham Wildcats in the inaugural WBBL Trophy final.
Naylor is no stranger to the big occasion, having represented Great Britain multiple times during her career, and is convinced the team are set to thrive on the biggest stage. However, the 27-year-old claims the Hatters won’t underestimate the Wildcats.
“Nottingham have got a very good starting five” said Naylor. “They’ve got a really good American in Carmen Reynolds and a great English player in Siobhan Prior. So they’re two offensive weapons we have to shut down. If we play as a team and make sure we limit what they can get then we’ll be ok but they’re a tough outfit. We’re a very deep team – we’ve got a lot of strength coming off the bench, so that will work to our advantage.
“We’ve also got a really strong starting five – people coming off the bench only tend to lift that and up the tempo even more. We often get big contributions from the whole squad, so I think that will be a big strength for us.”
The Hatters currently sit second in the league, their sole loss being a narrow 77-76 defeat to the Wildcats in October, although they gained revenge over Sunday’s opponents by beating them 79-73 last weekend in the Betty Codona Classic.
Naylor doesn’t believe that victory will have much of an effect come the WBBL Trophy final but is desperate for a similar result as her side look to make history by becoming the competition’s first-ever winners.
“I’m really excited about the whole day and I know the rest of the team are as well,” she added. “One of the reasons you play is to play in the big finals and hopefully win them. It’s great that the WBBL are playing before the men and hopefully there will be a big crowd with a lot of supporters out there and it should be a really good day for women’s and men’s basketball in this country.
“We’re going out there to win and we’ll do anything possible to do that – becoming the first WBBL Trophy winners is definitely on our minds.
“We’ll have a tough week of practise and make sure we go into the game ready.”
* The WBBL Trophy Final at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham will provide a historic first piece of silverware for the recently launched WBBL. For joint tickets for this event and the BBL Cup Final go to www.theticketfactory.com/bblcupfinal or call 0844338000