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Sparks Seek Total Effort

Players know they will have to be aggressive all game if they want to avoid playoff elimination today.

September 07, 2003|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

The Sparks have spent so much of the 2003 season living on the edge it's a wonder there are no deep cuts in their sneakers.

But having to repeatedly come back from the edge, as well as being two-time defending WNBA champions, has kept the Sparks at a high level of confidence, just one of the things they need to avoid being eliminated by Sacramento today.

Another thing will be a 40-minute effort, something that has not always been in ample supply.

"We have to come ready to play from the beginning," said Mwadi Mabika of today's Game 2 of the West finals at Staples Center. "Be aggressive from the beginning, especially with rebounding.

"We shouldn't have been surprised at how aggressive Sacramento was [Friday]. We knew they really wanted to win this game at home. They did what they had to do. Now we have to come back home, look at film, and see where we need to be more aggressive."

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Defensively the Sparks probably weren't expecting Sacramento guard Ticha Penicheiro to exert herself offensively in Game 1. After all, Penicheiro averaged only 2.1 points a game in the previous playoff series against Houston.

But Monarch Coach John Whisenant has been pleading with the league leader in assists to take more shots and be more of a scoring factor. It's one reason he was so glad to see Penicheiro score 16 points Friday.

"We talked to Ticha before the last Houston game, and before the Sparks game," Whisenant said. "I've been with her now a month and a half, and she's a better shooter than she gives herself credit to be. And I know that because we do shooting drills, and she makes her shot."

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