Firebirds are hot, but Gretel Tippett’s staying cool
GRETEL Tippett won't admit it, but the odds are stacked against New Zealand outfit the Northern Mystics in Sunday's ANZ Championship semi-final against the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane.
Not only have the Mystics never beaten the Firebirds in the eight-year history of the competition, the Queenslanders are on an 11-game winning streak this season, their only loss coming in the opening game of the season against the West Coast Fever.
The bad news for the Kiwis is that Tippett thinks her team can only improve on its recent form, particularly Sunday's 55-44 win over the NSW Swifts in the final of the Australian conference.
"We've just tried to build on our execution every game ... but we're still not content," the former Australian junior basketballer said.
"We can definitely improve on what we did last week. We certainly weren't happy with the first quarter."
Tippett has emerged as one of the rising stars of the competition this season, taking over from New Zealand international Ameliaranne Wells at goal attack and establishing an outstanding partnership with goal-scoring queen Romelda Aiken.
She has also generated plenty of interest with her unorthodox style, preferring to shoot layups most of the time, rather than the traditional netball method of shooting while stationary.
The strategy is already catching on among some of the next generation, although it's bound to be giving coaches headaches.
"I get excited when I see video of a young girl doing lay-ups," Tippett said. "It's just whatever works, and it works for me."
Not only has it worked well enough to get her a regular place on the Firebirds team, she was also given a call-up to be part of the Australian Diamonds' training camp in Canberra last month, part of the national team's preparation for this year's world championship being held in Australia.
If the Firebirds beat the Mystics, they will host the winner of the other semi-final between the Swifts and WBOP Magic next Sunday.