Master coach Tom Maher is the common thread weaved between 2021-22 WNBL grand finalists Melbourne Boomers and Perth Lynx.
In 1992, Maher guided Perth to its one and only championship.
Then nearly two decades later he would deliver Bulleen Boomers with their long-awaited first and only title.
Megan Hustwaite spoke to the 10-time WNBL championship coach this week.
Perth 58 defeated Dandenong 54
Maher had coached powerhouse Nunawading Spectres to five WNBL championships before landing in Perth with his two trusty superstars wife Robyn Maher and Michele Timms.
“Perth had a lot of talented locals that didn’t have professional habits. Some would rock up 10 minutes after training started, we had one girl who had four grandmothers die that year,” he said.
“We got them into shape and set professional standards by the time the season came around. We had three-month pre-seasons back then.
“And we had Timmsy and Robyn playing of course.”
Tanya Fisher took out Grand Final MVP honours in the decider against the Rangers while Robyn Maher locked down in a deciding match-up.
“Perth had a lot of athletic talent. Tanya was a very good athlete, as I recall she really shot the lights out that game,” Maher said.
“I remember in the Grand Final, Reggie Days averaged 24 points and Robyn held her to two so that was good.
“Timmsy made a shot off her knees. The ball was on the floor, she grabbed it, got up, it was inside the foul line and she thought ‘while I’m here I’ll shoot it’.”
Bulleen Boomers 103 defeated Canberra 78
Maher took the reins at the Veneto Club in 2009 after the Boomers had contested their first-ever Grand Final, against Canberra, the previous year.
The Boomers would lose to the Caps for the second time in as many seasons before making history.
“Bulleen was quite different to Perth. The Institute of Perth and the WA basketball association ran and owned the Perth team, but at Bulleen it was like a family club and we had a very large volunteer base,” he said.
“They’d come to our house for meetings. I’d sit on the couch and watch TV while they’d have a meeting. I saw them at work and at home.
“It was like when the Western Bulldogs won their premiership (in 2016), it was a club-based effort.
“It was a bunch of volunteers and that was really evident, we were in touch with that.”
Robyn Maher and Timms were again at the forefront of the breakthrough championship, now not as Maher’s star players but his right-hand women.
“Timmsy got all the sponsorship and Robyn was the administrator,” Maher recalled.
“It was a whole bunch of people who put their heart and soul into it, it was very good.”