Friendly fire: Teammates turn foes for season opener
There will be a returnees theme on the court when Townsville do battle with Perth tonight.
For the Fire, three-time WNBL champion Mia Murray makes her long awaited comeback.
For the Lynx, Darcee Garbin returns to North Queensland after being the orange and black outfit's MVP last season.
Together the pair boast formidable resumes in Australian basketball, and their clash is set to enthral in the opening round of the national competition.
It was in Townsville that Garbin made a name for herself, winning championships in the 2015/16 and 2017/18 campaigns.
But the lure of a Western Australia home crowd attracted the Kalgoorlie product back home, only to return to Townsville once again.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, but I guess I'm just excited to play," Garbin said.
"Maybe I have a little bit of an advantage being coached by Shannon last year, I might know a few things he might do, but most of all I'm excited to get back on court.
"I'm excited that game is in Mackay, not Townsville, because I could imagine the nerves would be a little higher if it was here.
"I guess there's a little bit of extra motivation when you play your old team, you don't want to lose - especially first game, you want to try get as many wins at the start of what's going to be a hectic schedule."
Garbin played alongside Murray the last time the Fire raised the silverware, and after two years out of the game the latter will announce her homecoming against her old sparring partner.
At the season launching captain's call at The Ville, Murray said she gave Garbin "a bit of a hip and shoulder to sort of rough her up a bit" all in the spirit of a highly anticipated contest.
But while their off court friendship has not wavered, that relationship will be put to the side when the two teams face off in Mackay.
"There is a lot of player turnover across the league, so while it's great to see my mate off the court it will be business as usual (tonight)," Murray said.
"We'll scout her heavily, her three point shot is deadly so we're looking to limit that a little bit.
"But I don't think they've got any one person we'll be focusing too much on, we'll be respecting their entire team and it will take a team effort on our behalf to get it done."
Despite being the only Queensland squad in the WNBL, Murray said her Fire could be up against it when they play in the Sugar City.
Former Townsville forward and Mackay Meteorette Kayla Steindl will take her place in the Lynx line up, and Murray expects the 30-year-old American will garner plenty of support at The Crater.
However she said, regardless of who was in the stands, the Fire would handle whatever comes their way with full force.
"We'll try and embrace it as much as we can, as a North Queensland town we're hoping to get as much support as we can from Mackay locals," Murray said.
"I know Mackay have a really strong basketball presence in their town and they do really get behind their club.
"I'm excited to see lots of fans in the stands, and we're so lucky to have a region that supports women's basketball so well."
Originally published as Friendly fire: Teammates turn foes for season opener