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Capitulation of the Capitals

CANBERRA CAPITALS coach Carrie Graf has admitted her father's death has affected her normally unbreakable focus after her side plummeted to a fifth straight loss on Friday night.

The Capitals' capsizing campaign hit a new low when they were upset 75-62 by bottom side West Coast in Perth, just the Waves' third win of the season.

Graf's father, Richard, died last month after a long battle with cancer, and she conceded her off-court battles, plus an Olympics campaign as Australian Opals coach, had contributed to the Capitals' slump.

''To be honest, I've been in a bit of a fog,'' Graf said on Saturday.

''The stuff I've been through has obviously impacted too, the clarity I've brought to it recently isn't normal, either.''

Asked whether Canberra's losing streak was the biggest challenge in her 12 seasons with the Capitals, Graf replied: ''I haven't thought about it in that context because it's been an unusual season for various reasons, off the back of the Olympics and with dad.''


At 5-8 and with a tough assignment looming at third-placed Adelaide on Sunday, the Capitals are in danger of losing contact with the top four.

Turnovers and an inability to handle pressure have been crippling the Capitals of late.

They again panicked under duress against the Waves' swarming defence, committing 18 turnovers to the hosts' seven.

''I would say we were ambushed, it wasn't like we were expecting it, but once again we just didn't handle the pressure,'' Graf said.

''We turned the ball over under pressure, and we turned it over when we weren't pressured.

''Our possession game was terrible, they rebounded the ball really hard and our ability to handle the pressure was more than sub par.

''We can't win games like that, we have to find a way to fix that before tomorrow [Adelaide on Sunday].''

Graf insisted her players hadn't taken West Coast lightly or subconsciously focused too soon on their clash with the Lightning.

''No, absolutely categorically not,'' Graf said.

''When you're in the situation we're in, you're not looking ahead to anyone.

''That's not a factor at all, or waiting for [injured star] Lauren Jackson to be back.

''We've just got a few players lacking in confidence and not handling pressure right now.''

Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson said there were no plans to bolster the squad mid-season by signing a quality overseas recruit.

The deadline to sign players and have them eligible to play finals expired last week. But Jackson said they wouldn't rule out bringing someone in if they were the right fit, and willing to forego pay.

''If we found someone had left their club in Europe and said they were available, the circumstances were right and it wasn't going to cost us anything, you never look a gift horse in the mouth,'' he said.

He said Lauren Jackson's long-term hamstring injury had thrown the team's strategy out of kilter.

The Capitals targeted recruits including Samantha Norwood and Alex Bunton because they felt they complemented Jackson's style.

''I think the team we put together this year was exactly the right team to play alongside Lauren - the problem is Lauren's not playing,'' Jackson said.

''If you look at the piece we've got, they're exactly the right support cast for Lauren.

''The strategy and rotations were right, the player list was dead right, the key piece of the puzzle is just not in there.''


Adelaide Lightning v Canberra Capitals at Adelaide Arena, 2.30pm.