WNBL Round 5 preview: In-form Mikaela Ruef flying under the radar

Round 5 is set to be fierce, with teams desperate to climb the ranks and position themselves as a top team after a month of action. The Perth Lynx will be eager for redemption, the Lightning have a chance to push into the top four, and underdogs the Bendigo Spirit and the UC Capitals will continue to fight for respect -- and for the Caps, their first win.

Player to watch

Mikaela Ruef

In a team full of superstars, it's easy to fly under the radar, and that's what Mikaela Ruef has been doing. That is, until her Round 4 performance which earned her a spot in the team of the round. Averaging 11 points and 10.5 rebounds across the round, she was a key to Townsville's two wins. She has shown to be a consistent member of the Fire, doing all the little things which make her a valued commodity.

Without Tianna Hawkins in the line-up, Zitina Aokuso was looked at to replace her impact, but Ruef has stepped up and the two are combining to substitute for the loss of Hawkins. Ruef has earned the right to not be overlooked by her opposition, she is the dark horse of this Fire team and they will require her good form if they wish to get back-to-back championships.

Key matchup

Aari McDonald vs. Jordin Canada

Prior to the last round, both the Melbourne Boomers and Perth Lynx were undefeated, now it is only the Boomers who have that feat. The Lynx will be determined to bounce back after a less than ideal performance in Round 4, however, the Boomers will equally want to remain undefeated. Two stars of the league Aari McDonald and Jordin Canada, will also face off, both proving to be great imports for their team. Both are guards that run the show while also adding a scoring threat and have been key to their team's success through a month of action. It will be interesting to see how they fare against one another, and which team will come out on top.

Game of the week

Townsville Fire vs. Adelaide Lightning

The Adelaide Lightning will be disappointed in their performance against Townsville last week but will have another chance as they play them again first thing in Round 5. The Fire are proving to be a top contender this season and are often tough to beat at home, partly due to the energy their crowd provides. They will be brimming with confidence as they sit second on the ladder, so the Lightning will need to bring their best if they want any chance of getting a win.

It's not an impossible task, the Lightning have shown they can beat a top side and they need to carry that belief if they are to do it again. Izzy Borlase is an excellent spark of talent for her team, but she will need to be supported by the likes of Issy Bourne, Lauren Mansfield and Brianna Turner to take on the deep Fire squad. They need to be aggressive offensively, but most importantly, they need to hold their ground on defence as the Fire have multiple scoring threats and know how to find the bottom of the net with ease.

The Fire are continuously relying on Kunek for scoring power and Sami Whitcomb for shot creation, both for herself and her teammates. However, if the Lightning shut those two down -- no easy task -- that would place them in good stead to cause an upset.


Townville Fire vs. Adelaide Lightning, 29 NOV via ESPN

Southside Flyers vs. UC Capitals, 2 DEC via 9NOW

Adelaide Lightning vs. Bendigo Spirit, 2 DEC via 9NOW

Melbourne Boomers vs. Perth Lynx, 3 DEC via 9NOW