Marianna Tolo set for long-awaited Capitals return on SundayDecember 4, 2018
Canberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss admits before the WNBL season started he feared he'd be counting down the days until injured superstar Marianna Tolo returned.
Tolo has spent the past nine months sidelined following her second knee reconstruction and will make a long-awaited return against the Bendigo Spirit in Canberra on Sunday.
Canberra Capitals star Marianna Tolo will return from a major knee injury on Sunday.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos
But Canberra have been more than holding their own without the Opals centre and have surprised plenty to be entrenched inside the finals-bound top four all season.
Kelsey Griffin, Lauren Scherf and Kelly Wilson have all stepped up in her absence and Tolo said was a "massive relief" she wouldn't be expected to dominate on return.
"That’s made it five million times better and easier for me in my mind that I don't have to come out and be a massive scorer or massive contributor," Tolo said.
"I just have to come back and do what I do best and focus on the little things. This weekend will be my first game back in nine months and I’m not expecting to hit the court with huge minutes or anything.
"But hopefully I get out there and contribute in the ways I can which is running the floor hard, being solid on defence and rebounding the ball.
"I don't think [the injury] will be in the back of my head, I remember last time coming back from an ACL I had so much to think about that I wasn't really concerned about my knee at all."
Capitals centre Marianna Tolo has needed two knee reconstructions in her career. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos
Goriss believes the attention Tolo attracts will open up the court for other players but said he was most looking forward to her defence.
"Tolo is our spiritual leader and to have her presence on the court offensively and defensively is really going to give us that injection to propel us forward," Goriss said.
"When you bring in your club MVP and league defensive player of the year it's going to change us defensively which is great because we gave up way too many points on the weekend.
"It’s exciting to have her back, it’s been a long road to recovery for her and we welcome her back with open arms."
Canberra are in third place at the halfway point of the season but Goriss admits he wasn't certain they'd start their campaign so well without Tolo.
"Before the season started it was kind of like a count down until the day Tolo comes back in because we thought we’d need her sooner rather than later," Goriss said.
"But and I think that Kelsey, Lauren and Kelly have done tremendous jobs in holding down the fort. It means we can nurse Tolo back into her minutes and rotation.
"There isn't any pressure on her or the team that we have to get wins with her early. So we can ease her back in which is a great position to be in."
W-LEAGUE ROUND NINE
Sunday: Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre, 2pm.
Source: Read Full Article