Magic's Tairi loving thrill of being back in finals
A move to the Magic has brought her the chance to play the big games, reports Aaron Goile.
Courtney Tairi now remembers what the playoffs is all about.
Having experienced finals games two years in a row (2010-11) at the NSW Swifts, Tairi went two years without at the Southern Steel.
But now with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic she is rejoicing in being back in the big time.
"I'm absolutely loving the finals fever and it's great to be back," she said. "A few years away from it, you kind of forget what it's like, but it just has a different buzz to it. And I'm glad to be doing it with the Magic and also with [coach] Julie [Fitzgerald], who hasn't had the finals as well since she's been with the Swifts.
"I think us being in the finals is a true credit to the work that she's done with us."
The Magic take on the Queensland Firebirds in the trans-Tasman league's preliminary final in Brisbane on Monday night, having given themselves another lifeline with their dramatic 50-49 win over the NSW Swifts in Sydney last Sunday.
It's these sudden death games which Tairi thrives on.
"I absolutely love it and I think the team loves it too. And we're just feeding off that. I think we've had such an amazing journey together this year that we don't want that to end just yet."
For the Magic to have made it as far as they have in itself is above and beyond what people were expecting from them, however Tairi, 25, said the team always had expectations on themselves to at least make the top four, and the belief that that could be achieved.
The task now is to come down from that thrilling win last weekend, and re-set for Monday.
"I think we were all on such a high and the adrenaline was still pumping a few days after," Tairi said. "And then it's coming back down, back to reality and hitting the training court knowing that the next game's probably going to be even that much harder."
Tairi is bracing for a tough assignment in marking Kim Ravaillion - the 20-year-old Diamonds dynamo.
"I think it's just going to be a game of running. So I just need to lift that intensity and just be able to run the game with her and just try and shut her down as much as I can. But in saying that though, I think it will be a full team effort defensively from our shooter down, just to try and stop Romelda Aiken at the back, because she's so tall and it's so hard to get ball off her - even if she misses she can get the rebound."
Whether the travel factor catches up with the Magic remains to be seen, while they also have to cope with the match starting after 9pm NZ time and having that hit their body clock a bit.
"I think some of us are night owls anyway, so we'll deal with that fine," Tairi said. "But for others I think it's just being mindful of the time change and just staying up a little bit later than usual. But we've got a plan in place. The coaches and management, they all know what's best and what times to train and what not and when's the best time to fly. So we have full confidence in the plan that they've put together to get us over to Brisbane in the best shape possible."