The UC Capitals will be playing with an extra sense of urgency this Sunday (February 16) as Marianna Tolo marks her 200th WNBL appearance when the Capitals host the Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena in game one of the semi-finals.
The 30-year-old will hit the landmark less than a week after helping the Australian Opals secure an Olympic berth with an 86-72 win over Brazil.
Tolo has enjoyed a solid season at centre for the Caps, averaging 14.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists, while shooting a very efficient 52.5 per cent from the field.
Caps’ coach Paul Goriss discussed her importance to the Canberran club.
“I know she holds the club dear to her heart, she holds the club in high esteem and she keeps saying the Caps are the only club she wants to ever play for,” Goriss said.
“She has been a leader and a captain for a championship-winning team and I know she will be fired up for this season, but also about her milestone of 200, which is really special to her. I know she is excited to be back here at the Capitals, but also about that milestone as well.”
— UC Capitals (@UCCapitals) February 9, 2020
Momentum is certainly with the defending champions, having won five-straight games heading into the postseason and despite having nearly two weeks off from the court, forward Keeley Froling believes the team has hit form at the right time.
“We had a lot of momentum coming into last year and I think that we are peaking at the right time,” Froling said.
“We finally have our whole group back together after a really up and down season, so we know what we can do and how we have to win this game. Obviously, we know it’s not going to come easy, but we are ready.
“I think for us it’s all about defence. We know that they can score and score a lot but our focus is getting defensive stops.”
While Tolo has had a massive influence on the court with three WNBL championships already bagged, her impact in preparing the next generation and as a teammate speaks volumes throughout the squad.
“She’s such a great leader, on the court and off the court as well with how she conducts herself, she works really hard, but she’s also a great person,” Froling said.
“Tolo is really like that mother figure, you can go to her for anything and she will listen.”
WNBL semi-final game one
What: UC Capitals v Melbourne Boomers
Where: AIS Arena
When: Sunday, 16 February. Tip-off at 5:30 pm.