Wehrung inspires aggressive Capitals victory

A brand new court, almost a brand new team and a brand new season meant many weren't sure what to expect from the Canberra Capitals.

But the Capitals enjoyed a dream start to their 2017-18 WNBL campaign with a 93-80 win over the Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre on Friday night.

Capitals coach Paul Goriss set his side the goal of defending home court and his side ticked the first box in emphatic fashion.

Abigail Wehrung had the honour of sinking the first basket at the new venue when she scored from long range to give Canberra a lead it would only relinquish for all of 35 seconds.

Wehrung led the scoring with 22 points, while explosive American import Jordan Hooper stole the show with 18 of her own.

Capitals legend Nat Hurst proved an inspired choice for the captaincy role, barking instructions all night and racking up 14 assists.

But it was the aggression in defence that stood out, laying the platform for a scoring frenzy at the other end of the floor.

"We want to make this a place where other teams don't want to come and play," Goriss said.

"We definitely set a standard in the first half, we lost our way in the third ... that's what we want to be our hallmark this season, we want to get things done at the defensive end because we know we're going to be able to score.

"That's going to be a thing that we hopefully hang our hat on."

Eziyoda Magbegor showed maturity beyond her years from the moment she was injected into the contest, handling the physicality with ease ??? and she had the perfect person to learn from.

WNBA championship winner Mistie Bass looked like she hadn't missed a beat since despite taking a year off to have a baby, combining brilliantly with young gun Magbegor.

"[Magbegor] is a phenomenal player, she's great now but she's going to get even better with this experience, playing against women," Goriss said.

"Words don't describe for an 18-year-old coming in and doing what she does. She's aggressive, she's assertive, she makes things happen. I'm just glad she's on our team."

Canberra's ferocious defence in the opening half laid the platform for a commanding 50-35 half-time lead.

While they lost their way in the third period, the Capitals dominated the last with Bendigo enjoying the lead for all of 35 seconds in the opening term.

Wehrung says the win puts the Capitals in a good position and another victory on Sunday could be vital given the condensed season.

"We need to make this a fortress for us and teams need to be scared when they come to play us," Wehrung said.

In welcome news for Capitals fans, Olympian Rachel Jarry made a seamless return from a knee injury.

Goriss had little time to savour the result as the focus quickly turned to Sunday's clash with Abby Bishop and the Adelaide Lightning, who stunned reigning champions Sydney 91-80 to start their season on Friday night.

CANBERRA CAPITALS 93 (A Wehrung 22 J Hooper 18 K Gaze 14) bt BENDIGO SPIRIT 80 (K Griffin 20 B Laney 19 N Payne 13) at the National Convention Centre.

This story Wehrung inspires aggressive Capitals victory first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.