Missing out on winning the league unbeaten will fuel Sevenoaks Suns’ tilt at the WBBL Playoffs.

Just one more slice of motivation, admits Cat Carr, as the Women’s British Basketball League champions prepare for the post-season which tips off with this weekend’s quarter-finals at the Vertu Arena in Newcastle.

The Suns’ last eight tie comes less a week after their shot at a perfect 20-0 campaign was crushed by Leicester Riders, a defeat whose blow was softened by the mathematics that still allowed Len Busch’s side to retain the title they acquired in 2019.

But Sevenoaks, who meet Oaklands Wolves on Saturday, concedes that single reverse may prove beneficial over the next few weeks.

“The way we lost will definitely motivate us,” said the 32-year-old American, who will be a prime candidate for WBBL MVP.

“The way it happened was in our own hands by not doing what we were supposed to do. So it really gave us a chance to look at the what we have to hone in on, defensively and offensively. And if we were going to lose, that was the time to do it, to motivate us going into the playoffs.”

No team will come in more game-ready. Having paused their own campaign due to Covid concerns at the turn of the year, the Suns returned to lose to Leicester in the WBBL Cup final. Rusty then following that hiatus, they subsequently had to rally from behind in the league race.

They played an extraordinary 12 times during April, finishing it off with the long trip to Edinburgh last Wednesday to usurp the Pride.

It would have been logical to go straight to Newcastle. Due to a lack of available practice facilities, it was train home on Thursday morning, two days of refinements at home, and then north once again.

“April has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Carr confirms. “My body is not very happy with me, mentally and physically. It’s been a lot.

“But I’m still very blessed to play the game that I love and ai try to reflect back on that. But we’ve coped with so much. Testing through the week. No fans. Lacking interaction. It’s a lot different.”

Credit to the WBBL for getting through the full season with only a handful of games wiped out. Normalcy has become relative.

Yet it has forced all eleven clubs, and the central structure, to be creative. To raise their games where rules permitted. Positives to take, says Carr who is soon to conclude her ninth term in the UK.

“If you look at last season, there were only a couple of teams who consistently did streaming. Everyone does it now. That’s positive because we have a lot of foreign players who are now getting exposure.

“I know back home – same with Ta’yani (Clark) – we have everyone watching. That’s been the most improvement I’ve seen.”

Combined with playing has been her online training business. The pandemic has been an asset on that front, driving clients to their screens, happy to be cajoled towards fitness no matter that Carr is half-way across the world.

Another career beckons. A different life. So will these Playoffs be the end of the road or will she make it a round ten campaigns on our shores?

“That is the running question,” she smiles. “I have not decided yet. I don’t know how I make it. It will be predicated on how I feel at the end of the season.

“What I want to do. A lot comes into it. I’m not as young as I used to be. So we’ll see.”

WBBL Playoff quarter-finals
Saturday: Sevenoaks Suns v Oaklands Wolves (5pm), Leicester Riders v Newcastle Eagles (7.30pm)

Sunday: Nottingham Wildcats v Manchester Mystics (5pm), London Lions v Essex Rebels (7.30)

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