What Christmas break? Capitals back at deserted gym

Canberra Capitals Natalie Hurst, Jordan Hooper and Chevannah Paalvast other training for their last WNBL game of the season.
Chevannah Paalvas
Photo by Karleen Minney.
Canberra Capitals Natalie Hurst, Jordan Hooper and Chevannah Paalvast other training for their last WNBL game of the season. Chevannah Paalvas Photo by Karleen Minney.

Hot dogs, corn and watermelon don't exactly scream Christmas tradition, but Jordan Hooper's makeshift celebrations will fuel her hopes of finishing the WNBL season on the perfect note.

Hooper and teammates Nat Hurst and Chevannah Paalvast cut lonely figures at the deserted University of Canberra gym on Tuesday when they returned to training to blow out the Christmas cobwebs.

It was harder for Hooper knowing the time difference meant the rest of her family was still celebrating Christmas Day at home in Nebraska when she started training again.

But the 25-year-old is determined to beat the Perth Lynx on Friday night to make her around-the-world sacrifice worth it and lay a marker for the Capitals to rebuild next year.

"The lungs and the legs ... you've got to wake them all up after Christmas," Hooper grinned.

"We hung by the pool and made our own Christmas dinner ... hot dogs, corn on the cob and watermelon. It was simple by really good.

"This is my fourth season overseas [at Christmas] and it does get a little bit harder every year. But Boxing Day is the hardest because that's when they celebrate.

"But for us as the Capitals, we're just not going to hold anything back in this last game. We've got nothing to lose."

The Capitals will clash against the Lynx in the last game of a reformatted and condensed WNBL season.

They have won four of their past five games and are showing the promising signs of a team on the rise, but a horror 13-game losing streak will see them finish second last on the ladder.

The Capitals players are determined to right some of the wrongs with a last-round win, refusing to let motivation wain even during the tough times.

The Capitals will play their last game of the regular season on Friday night.

The Capitals will play their last game of the regular season on Friday night. Photo: Karleen Minney

Coach Paul Goriss offered an optional Boxing Day session for the only three players in Canberra - Hooper, Hurst and Paalvast - and all three jumped at the chance.

The rest of the players will return to training on Wednesday and they want revenge after letting a massive lead slip against the Lynx in Perth earlier in December.

"These girls are professionals, they get paid to play sport so you've got to do it and train," Goriss said.

"All three wanted to train and it's a great opportunity to get back working again before Friday night.

"We've had a good run lately, but the focus has to be Perth. It's strange to think we've only got this one game left in this shorter season, but we just want to get that win."

Goriss has started to turn his attention to rebuilding his squad for the 2018-19 season and the University of Canberra has recruited former Australian Opals coach Carrie Graf to reinvigorate the program.

Hooper said the players were only focused on one thing. "We just want to play free and for each other," she said.

"That's the main thing. Even though it's our last game, we need to keep making progress for years to come.

"Motivation is hard when you don't have something to play for, but our motivation is to get better and improve for our next season of basketball."

WNBL ROUND 13

Friday: Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx at National Convention Centre, 7.30pm. Tickets available at the door.

This story What Christmas break? Capitals back at deserted gym first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.