Hummingbirds look to fire up squad in BEL match against Racers

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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Defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds, coming off the biggest win this season, aim to get their bench players on par with the starting attack while hunting victory in Netball Jamaica's Berger Elite League (BEL) against St Catherine Racers.

The Hummingbirds and Racers will play in the second game of a double-header at Leila Robinson Courts today, beginning at 7:45 pm. In the opening game, Manchester Spurs, who have won all five matches in convincing fashion, take on St James Sharpes, at 6:30 pm.

Based on quality and form, ominous-looking Kingston Hummingbirds are favoured to register their fifth win.

For the first half of their contest against St Ann Orchids on Saturday, the Hummingbirds were awesome and reflected that with a 43-goal show. They eventually ended with a season-high 72 points, with high-scoring shooter Sabrina Spence netting a whopping 59 goals from 65 tries.

Head coach Winston Nevers noted satisfaction with the score, admitting that “I think we're gelling more as a team now and we're coming to be the team that we want to be”.

Still, he wants improvements from his talented team built on not only the attacking strength of Shanice Beckford, Paula Thompson and Hasana Williams, but a solid defence anchored by Abbeygail Linton.

“We have Shanice Beckford, who we want to give some time on the court; we don't want to have her play right through because she has a little niggling injury, and so we just want to build the score and take her off,” Nevers shared after Saturday's match. “The combination with Shanice Beckford and Hasana (Williams), Paula Thompson and Sabrina Spence, that combination is the one we want to start with every time and it worked for us.

“But we want to change and give the substitutes some game time too because we might need them later on in the series and because we changed so many players at once the combination wasn't working. They were trying to force the ball into the circle, the movement wasn't good and we'll have to correct that because every player we put on court we want them to have good playing time, we want them to play well. The seven that we put on court first we want everybody to play like that seven,” he said.

The Hummingbirds are second in the standings on 12 points from five matches, while St Catherine Racers are on seven points and among the top four, who make up the semi-final group.

They are less talented than the Hummingbirds, but play with a never-say-die attitude, feeding off the energy off multi-faceted Zonasha Hinds. Captain Nardia Hanson also plays a key role in the team as leader, but their greatest hope lies in the hands of high-percentage shooter Tracy-Ann Barnes, whose game will improve significantly if she gets lighter on her feet.

They are coming off a loss on Saturday against the Spurs, but assistant coach Natacia Nembhard was not all perturbed.

“I think we played very well, knowing the calibre of the Manchester Spurs team,” she reflected. “I think that we could have been a little more patient with the passes and try to eliminate some of the turnovers.

“Going forward to get into the semi-final positions I think we have to win the games,” Nembhard pointed out.

For the opening match the Spurs, which have won all five matches, lead the standings with 15 points and are expected to romp the St James Sharpes fixture.

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