Sport

Marianna Tolo keen on return to Canberra Capitals after stint in Europe

Canberra may have one eye on next season but the Capitals remain determined to send club champions Marianna Tolo and Carly Wilson out on a winning note.

Canberra's playoff hopes ended with a shock loss to Adelaide on Thursday and their season officially draws to a close in Townsville on Saturday night.

Europe-bound Tolo said the team were disappointed not to be heading north with a finals spot on the line, but backed the Capitals to return to winning ways.

"To finish on a positive note would be massive for us and I think everyone will be giving it their best and with no pressure I think we'll play our hearts out," Tolo said.

"With Carly retiring... she's had such a great career and is an icon of the game, it's the end of the era for the Caps so I just want finish with a win for her."

Coach Paul Goriss agreed the focus was to send Wilson out a winner and praised Tolo for spearheading a Capitals campaign that surprised many as they pushed for a finals berth all season.

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"She's been a huge part of our team, it doesn't take Einstein to see everything is based around Tolo offensively and she's such a good presence defensively," Goriss said.

"She's the key factor in us being as successful as we were this season... she's a great player and has been great for us all season and we wouldn't have been fighting for top four spot without her.

"You can't put a value on what she brings both on and off the court. Combining her playing stats and her as a person you really can't measure just how good she is for the program."

Keely Froling is the only contracted player for next season and while the recruiting process has begun Goriss described Tolo as irreplaceable, but is confident her absence is only temporary.

"I don't think there's another Tolo running around out there, not just her size and ability, she's a good person who wants to practice hard and does all the right things by the team and the fans," he said.

"Those type of players aren't just hanging around everywhere... but we have no doubt this isn't Tolo's last game as a Capital, she'll be back whether it's in one season or two, we just want to do the right thing by her."

The Opals guard left the door wide open for a return to the capital and despite missing the playoffs said it had been one of the most enjoyable seasons of her career.

"I know how much everyone has enjoyed this season, we've created a really good culture, people have enjoyed playing here and the challenge now is to keep that going into next season," Tolo said.

"After the Bendigo win some of the girls said that was best game they've ever been apart of with the crowd getting so involved.

"When we're enjoying it we're not afraid to ride the wave and everyone contributed this season, nobody did their own thing, it was a real team effort.

"I love Canberra and all my experiences that I've had here so I'll definitely look to come back after I'm done playing in Europe."

WNBL — ROUND 19

Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Townsville Fire at Townsville Stadium, 8pm.