Sheffield Hatters coach Vanessa Ellis says she has no problems with a tough first round draw in this weekend’s Betty Codona Classic at All Saints Sports Centre.
The Hatters enter the eight-team tournament, which is named after the club’s former coach and basketball legend Betty Codona, in good form after an injury hit start to the season, but have been drawn against a talented Cardiff Met Archers side for a place in the semi-finals.
Ellis said: “It doesn’t really bother us who we play because if we’re going to win the tournament we have to play the best teams at some point, whether that’s in the first round or the final.
“Our WBBL Trophy semi-final match (an 87-77 victory over Leicester Riders on December 21) was the first time we’ve had a full strength side this season and Lauren Thomas-Johnson (the Hatter Great Britain guard) is still not right after her injury.”
Thomas-Johnson is battling a shoulder injury and has been one of three key Hatters - forwards Steph Gandy and Estela Torres being the others - who have suffered long term injuries this season.
The Hatters trained on Tuesday night at All Saints and are desperate to win the tournament after losing in the semi-finals to winners Nottingham Wildcats in the inaugural event earlier this year in the East Midlands.
The Wildcats sit at the top of the WBBL with a 100 per cent record with the Hatters second. The two teams last met in October with Nottingham claiming a 77-76 victory.
Betty Codona Classic draw: Friday - Leicester Riders v Manchester Mystics (noon); Hatters v Cardiff (2.15pm); Barking v Northumbria (4.30pm); Nottingham v Seven Oaks (6.45pm).
Saturday - (Plate) Loser Game 1 v Loser Game 2 (9.30am); (BCC) Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 2 (11.40am); (Plate) Loser Game 3 v Loser Game 4 (2pm); (BCC) Winner Game 3 v Winner Game 4 (4.15pm).
Sunday - Plate final (10am); BCC Final (1pm).
* Tickets cost £2 each on the door if from Sheffield.