Chris Bunten insists Georgia Ohrdorf has the ‘heart of a lion’ after revealing the battling Aussie is prepared to fight through the pain barrier in a bid to boost Newcastle Eagles’ playoff hopes.
The WBBL’s second best rebounder missed last weekend’s narrow win at Essex Rebels after picking up an ankle injury.
But Ohrdorf, who sits fifth in the league for scoring, has told Bunten she will suit up and set to work ahead of this afternoon’s trip to fierce rivals Sheffield Hatters.
“Georgia is one of the toughest players I know and she will put everything on the line for this team,” he said.
“She really does have the heart of a lion.
“Georgia has told me she’s prepared to give it a go this weekend and that’s what I wanted to hear.
“We’ll see how it goes and fingers crossed she can play a key role.”
Newcastle are one of four teams locked on 22 points at the top of the WBBL Championship table.
The Eagles led the league for 24 hours last weekend before reigning champions Sevenoaks Suns reclaimed top spot as the only side with one loss this season.
But Bunten admitted that victory against fifth-placed Sheffield this weekend would give Newcastle’s hopes of sealing a top two finish a huge boost.
“We’ve beaten them once this season but they are always a very, very tough team,” he added.
“The Hatters have gone on a little run of form of late and I was surprised that Vanessa Ellis didn’t win Coach of the Month for February.
“I think it will come down to how well we defend this weekend against a Sheffield team that has no problem scoring.
“And a big factor will be how many minutes I can get out of Georgia and Mante [Kvederaviciute].”
Newcastle’s Lithuanian forward returned to action against Essex last weekend but one of the WBBL’s biggest stars clearly lacked sharpness after a week out.
And Bunten will be hoping Kvederaviciute can make a bigger impact in South Yorkshire as she feels her way back to full match fitness.
“I’d describe both Georgia and Mante as 50-60 per cent in terms of their overall health right now,” added the Eagles’ playcaller.
“If I can get 15 to 20 minutes out of both of them then I’ll be happy. I think that would give us the edge that we’re looking for.
“We’ve monitored Mante closely in practice this week and tried to manage her injury to ensure she can play some key minutes this weekend.
“She is one of the best players in the WBBL and any contribution she can make against the Hatters will be hugely beneficial.”
This afternoon’s clash tips off at 3pm with Newcastle back in action at the Eagles Community Arena against Cardiff on March 22.