The Canberra Capitals’ wretched run of luck has finally taken a positive turn with Minnesota Lynx point guard Renee Montgomery cleared to make her WNBL debut after resolving her visa issues.
Montgomery will suit up for the Capitals in Saturday’s home game against Melbourne in a major boost to a roster crippled by injuries.
The 28-year-old’s arrival will help appease the loss to perimeter player Hanna Zavecz, who retired from basketball this week after aggravating a rib injury.
Canberra’s season is already in danger of slipping away after losing their first five matches and the Boomers match is virtually must-win.
Capitals coach Carrie Graf confirmed on Thursday that Montgomery will debut at AIS Arena, but doesn’t expect her to play a huge role given her travel after helping Lynx win the WNBA title.
“She’s on a plane as we speak. She’ll have medicals tomorrow [Friday] and we’ll suit her up and give her some game time,” Graf said.
“Straight off the plane you’re not ready to play 35 to 40 minutes; jet lag takes a couple of days to get over.
“It’s a confidence boost for our team. Our roster is undermanned due to circumstances out of our control and adding a player of her ilk is a plus for us.
“She’s a quality player, can hit the three-point shot and get deep in the lane to score.
“She’s going to create opportunities for the rest of the group, but she’s not going to be the magic formula in a day,” she said.
Montgomery’s inclusion will allow the Capitals to cover for Zavecz by playing regular point guards Alice Coddington and Abbey Wehrung with Montgomery at the same time.
Graf insisted they’re focussed on playing “with what we have” after eight players suited up in the last-start loss in Bendigo, but will keep their ear to the ground for possible replacements.
The Capitals showed plenty of grit before Bendigo’s clear size advantage ground them down in the 77-66 defeat.
“Two days isn’t enough time to get a starting perimeter player into your group,” she said.
“Right now we’ll sit tight and we’ll look at potential options out there in coming weeks.
“We’ve been without players for a while and been on numerous searches, but there’s not a lot out there.”
The injury dramas mean young n Opal Stephanie Talbot has taken on a much bigger role offensively for Canberra, averaging 20 points per game.
She said she was relishing the extra responsibility but said a greater focus on intensity led to a more competitive showing against Bendigo.
“Throughout the game our grit and team defence took it up a lot, we were so much better at that, and that put the pressure on them,” she said.
“Down the stretch their size and our point guard [Wehrung] getting fouled out [hurt], they overtook us, which was disappointing, but the effort we put in was much better.”
WNBL round four: Canberra Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, 7pm
Tickets available from Ticketek