Richards 'overwhelmed' by support in farewell game

IT was not the result Gabe Richards had hoped for in her final game as a Spirit player on her home court, but the two-time WNBL championship star was still all smiles following Friday's game against Perth Lynx.

The Spirit legend admitted to being 'overwhelmed' by the support of family, friends and fans in her farewell appearance, which coincided with her 250th game as a Spirit player.

No one has played more WNBL games for the Spirit than Richards, a foundation member of the club and the second-ever player to be signed by the team back in 2007.

The two-time WNBL ALL-Star was mobbed by fans after the match in a genuine sign of affection and appreciation for her efforts since the Spirit's foundation season in 2007-08.

Earlier, a memorable night for Richards and her long-time friend and team-mate Kelly Wilson, who broke the WNBL games record with her 395th appearance, started with a guard of honour from former team-mates and both Spirit and Lynx players.

"It was absolutely incredible - the support and love I have been shown, not only tonight (Friday) but all week has been incredible and I am so thankful," Richards said.

"There are people here I haven't seen for a long, long time. There a few boys here I grew up playing against (in Seymour) and I always wanted to be as good as.

"There are so many people from Seymour I haven't seen in years, but they came and there are so many family members here, it's incredible."

Richards also made reference to former team-mate Kelsey Griffin and wife Erin Ross, who made the trip from Canberra for the occasion.

A big occasion brought another big performance from Richards, who was the Spirit's second-leading scorer with 16 points, behind only Shyla Heal (17).

She also helped herself to seven rebounds and one blocked shot and was responsible for the first six points scored by the Spirit on the night.

Richards was content with her own performance, but disappointed with the final result, a 66-89 loss.

"I was lucky to get a few good looks early (in the game) and we kept going to it until they could stop it," she said.

"Ultimately our defence let us down."

While her last game in Spirit colours at Bendigo Stadium has come and gone, Richards still has the chance to play in at least one more win before the curtain falls on her WNBL playing career.

The Spirit wind up their 2019-20 season with road games against Sydney Uni Flames this Friday night and Townsville Fire on Saturday.

"I really would love to get another win, I was hoping it would be tonight (Friday) and I'm sorry it wasn't for everyone who came," she said.

"Hopefully we can get one before the end of the season.

"It's very had to feel down when you've been given this much love.

"For everyone who I have played with along my journey to be here, I am just so grateful."

The Spirit issued its own public thanks to Richards.

"We as a club thank Gabe Richards for all she has done on the floor and behind the scenes," a statement read.

"Not only as a teacher and student of the game but also for the outstanding leadership she has given Bendigo over the course of her career.

"Congratulations on all the accolades you have received, and we have no doubts this will not be the last time we see her around a basketball court."

This story Richards 'overwhelmed' by support in farewell game first appeared on Bendigo Advertiser.