Hotshot Hannah Shaw insisted Team Northumbria will be ready for the best that Caledonia Pride can muster when the two sides do battle for the second time in three days at Sport Central on Sunday.
The GB international and England Commonwealth Games hopeful marked her homecourt debut with an impressive double double of 16 points and 11 rebounds as the two teams went in search of WBBL points.
And after cruising through the phoney war on the back of a 69-59 win TN will head into Sunday’s WBBL Cup semi-final as clear favourites to clinch a spot in next month’s showpiece final.
“I think the priority for both teams this weekend is to progress in the Cup but we went out to win the league game and that’s what we did,” said Shaw, who signed for TN last week following a mid-season switch from Nottingham.
“We put in a good performance and came away with the points so it was a good night’s work.
“Neither team wanted to give too much away but I guess Pride will use the press that they tried – it worked well for them but we know it’s coming now.
“We’ll be ready.”
Shaw came to the fore in the absence of Kara Bonenberger and got valuable minutes under her belt following a stop-start campaign with the Wildcats.
“I’m really enjoying it here,” she added. “I’ve been involved in three or four practices now and I feel like I’m finding my feet.
“It’s a really nice set up at Sport Central and the girls are a top group of players. There are so many positives.”
Shooting for silverware is just one of them and the experienced centre added: “Making any final is such a huge deal but with this team it’s something we should be aspiring to do.
“Ali [Gorrell] is probably in with a shout of taking the league MVP title and everywhere I look there is talent. Making the Cup final and playing in Birmingham would be a big thing but this is a top WBBL team.”
Shaw has settled into her new team seamlessly and already looks like a stellar addition to Chris Bunten’s fast-improving roster.
“It’s always tough moving mid-season but if I’m honest Chris and the players have made it as easy as it possibly could be,” she added. “Even my former team-mates back in Nottingham thought it made sense for me to make this move – I don’t think they wanted me to leave but they said it was a good idea.”
And it will prove to be a great idea if Shaw nails her place in the England team set for Commonwealth Games action next spring.
“I’m hoping to make the final squad for the Commonwealth Games and this move should help me to get there,” she added.
“It wasn’t just the opportunity of more court time – I can make use of the fantastic facilities at Sport Central and make the most of being a full-time athlete.
“It’s difficult to have a full-time job and then play WBBL basketball on top of that. I have an opportunity to focus fully on my basketball and give myself every chance of making the Gold Coast squad.
“It would be the highlight of my career so I have to put everything I can into making it happen.”
TN tackle the Pride from 4pm at Sport Central on Sunday. Entry is free.
Report by Simon Rushworth