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Captain calls for team effort to quell Rangers' star guards

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Capitals skipper Jess Bibby at training on Wednesday.

Capitals skipper Jess Bibby at training on Wednesday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberra Capitals skipper Jess Bibby says every player in her misfiring squad must take responsibility for quelling Dandenong's star back court when they look to snap a seven-game losing streak at AIS Arena on Friday.

Rangers guards Kathleen MacLeod and Jenna O'Hea, who both made their Olympic debuts in London, have been in outstanding touch for the defending champions this season.

O'Hea and MacLeod rank first and second in the league for assists with 6.5 and 5.9 per game, respectively. MacLeod also tops the league for free throws and percentage, and her 18.1 points a game is the third best in the WNBL.

The 26-year-old has dominated her head-to-head match-up with Capitals point guard Nicole Hunt, averaging 18 points and 7.6 assists in five games against Canberra the past three seasons.

MacLeod's speed and ability to penetrate to the basket has caused Hunt huge headaches.

With Canberra (5-10) desperate to keep its slim finals hopes alive, limiting the influence of the brilliant Opals duo looms as vital.

O'Hea hurt Canberra in Dandenong's 91-72 win early last month, racking up seven assists and 22 points off eight of 16 shooting.

Canberra's best defender Carly Wilson will again be assigned the task of marking O'Hea, a challenge she has handled well in the past.

''Kath's a great player, an Olympian and someone who's a difficult match-up for anybody. I'm sure Flea [Hunt] will be ready for her first battle of the year,'' Bibby said on Wednesday.

''And it's not just Flea, it's a job where we all have to help out whoever's guarding Kath, we can't just rely on one person to shut down the great players.

''The same with Jenna, we can't just rely on Willo [Wilson] to get the job done on her.''

Despite losing to ladder-leader Bendigo three times in as many matches, Dandenong remains the title favourite and has the deepest roster in the WNBL.

Krista Phillips is a Canadian Olympian, while the mid-season acquisition of WNBA guard Monica Wright has made the Rangers back court even more imposing.

''Dandenong have dropped three games all year and were last year's championship-winning team, it would be silly to say we're full of confidence and on a roll, we haven't been,'' Canberra coach Carrie Graf said on Wednesday.

''They're loaded with talent and playing with confidence, it's going to be a tough contest but it's one we can have a crack at.''

FRIDAY

Canberra Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at AIS Arena, 7pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

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