The #WNBL20 Finals Series tips off in the nation’s capital this weekend as the University of Canberra Capitals and the Deakin Melbourne Boomers go head-to-head in what looms as a compelling contest.
Final standings came down to the final day of the regular season on February 1, the Caps securing second place, with a two-point win over Adelaide Lightning, ahead of the Boomers, courtesy of a 2-1 season split.
The Caps won the split in a remarkable turnaround after copping an early-season 107-72 thrashing from Melbourne in Geelong back in Round 3.
Canberra responded by beating the Boomers on their home floor in Round 5, 79-76, led by a game-high 22 points from the WNBL’s leading scorer Kia Nurse.
The Caps and Boomers last met in Round 14 on January 17 at the National Convention Centre with the Caps prevailing by a point, 76-75, in a dramatic overtime thriller.
The defending champions have Canadian import Nurse (21.3 ppg) riding a wave of form and confidence while reigning league MVP Kelsey Griffin is back in business after succumbing to ankle then hamstring injuries and Keely Froling has shaken off a broken nose to return to the starting five.
The biggest and smallest players on the squad – Marianna Tolo (196cm) and Olivia Epoupa (165cm) – are both influential and rising guard Maddy Rocci is enjoying a breakout campaign.
Melbourne, under coach Guy Molloy, is contesting post-season action for a third straight season and will place plenty of emphasis on a strong start to this game and series in the wake of last year’s straight sets semi-final exit to Adelaide.
Bigs, and Opals teammates, Cayla George (averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds this season) and Ezi Magbegor (13 points, 6 rebounds) are a formidable force for the Boomers and danger for all opposition.
Playmaker Lindsay Allen, who averages 5 assists in #WNBL20, returned from a four-game absence (knee injury) in the final game of the season against Perth and clocked 15 minutes court time. She will be better for the extra rest but plenty of focus will zero in on her fitness and ability to spark her team as she does so well, so often.
Co-Captain Maddie Garrick and Sophie Cunningham will be eyeing big performances while Stella Beck has also stepped up in the back end of the season offering crucial contributions off the bench. Who can forget that three against Southside in Round 13?
Series 2, Game 1
UC Capitals v Melbourne Boomers
Sunday February 16
AIS Arena, 5.30pm
All finals series games available live on FOX Sports.