You can have wins even in a loss

November 28, 2023 | WNBL news

Written by Darren Barker, Features Writer

Canberra vs Melbourne was a classic tale of “can last beat first?” and even though the Capitals couldn’t pull it off, I walked away impressed.

David vs Goliath

The classic storyline, first vs last, undefeated vs winless, it was the 4-0 Melbourne Boomers facing off against the 0-4 Canberra Capitals on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

You tune in probably expecting Melbourne to come out on top but deep down you are rooting slightly more for Canberra. Not because of who Melbourne are, I actually really like their team, but because as humans I feel there’s a bit of us that will always go for the underdog. Especially when it does feel like a neutral match-up in your mind.

The Caps are on here

The “Caps” came out of the Gippsland gates hot, which might I add, how nice did the Regional Indoor Sports Stadium in Gippsland look? It’s had some upgrades and I was very pleased with my viewing experience.

None the less, Canberra had urgency early which was led by one name, Alex Sharp. How good is she? Easily one of the top names my eyes have been glued to this season. She’s been great for her new club.

Ok maybe we’re on here, as I got excited from a generic fans perspective about the underdog Capitals being up 11-7 in the opening minutes.

A big shout out to Monique Conti

Now a quick side point here… but how impressive are dual athlete’s such as Monique Conti? This thought was triggered as soon as I saw her step out onto the floor. I’m still not sure it’s spoken about enough that she and dual-athlete’s are in the best crop of talent in two sports, professionally.

She’s on both the Richmond AFLW team and the Melbourne Boomers WNBL team, starring for Richmond and jumping on the court for the Boomers when her schedule allows for it. It’s pretty crazy. Conti had 34 disposals and 1 goal in a win in her last outing of the season for Richmond on November 5th and on November 26th she’s switched codes and is pestering the hell out of Jade Melbourne on defense.

I often wonder how hard it is to train her brain like, “ok these are these rules, forget about the football tactics from the other day. Basketball mode on.” I’ll hopefully talk to Monique one day about it, that’s a goal.

Conti just won the AFLW League Best and Fairest last night, she’s just a gun athlete.

The headline act in the first half

Hey forget the 3-point era, Naz Hillmon was continuously banging in the post for points on top of points on top of points, Canberra had zero answers for her.


Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images

A real test for the young Capitals

The Capitals were down almost double digits at the early stages of the third and I was getting worried that this is where the best team in the league (record wise at least) would make their run and finish Canberra off. I was thankfully wrong.

The young Caps battled, of course Jade Melbourne had a say in it, a big 3 from Alex Fowler made it a serious game as well, it was really good to see. Back to a 3 point game at 3 quarter time.

Nicole Munger opens up the 4th with a 3 to tie it up – alright we have a game.

18 year old Jayda Clark with some great defense on Jordin Canada to get a stop – great.

Monica Okoye makes a large 3 to give Canberra an 8 point lead with 4:20 left in the game – we’re laughing.

At this stage I am on the Capitals boat singing their praises and hoping for their first win of the season.

Canberra might actually do this.

I was wrong.

MVP things

Jordin Canada sensed the occasion, she went into attack mode and made a hard fought layup, got herself to the free throw line also and made it a 2 point game with 2:50 left on the clock.

MVP things.

I mentioned it a week ago but her demeanour reminds me of someone like Damian Lillard. A killer on the inside that knows when it’s time to put the team on their back.

I’ve got to admit, I had a foot in both camps right now as Canada was a joy to watch.

(As you can see I just want a close, quality game, nothing personal I promise…)


Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Going full circle, a Naz Hillmon story

We’ve come full circle, after dominating in the paint the whole game of course it was Naz Hillmon who tied it up with a minute left.

Coming into the game Hillmon was averaging 10.5 PPG but she had 33 on the board by the games end, just a dominant outing.

Naz also had a great post on Instagram afterwards with a photo from the Boomers media day of her sitting on a prestigious throne looking deadly serious with the caption “They waiting for me to get off my throne, I’m just settling in 👑💜”.

Pretty elite I thought.

A hell of a game comes to a close

Jade Melbourne, who’s just a star already, hit what I thought could be the game winning 3 with 51 seconds left. It was a mood in Gippsland, the crowd loved Jade (she grew up in the area) and the Capitals were about to get their first win.

Nope. Jordin Canada immediately answered with her own 3.

Again, MVP things.

The game went into overtime and slowly things were looking out of reach with Jade Melbourne fouling out and the Canada/Hillmon duo willing Melbourne to the win. The Boomers went on to win 87-81 to bring their record to 5-0 on the season.

Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images

You can have wins in a loss

I hope there was a positive energy in the Capitals locker room.

I know team’s will always put an emphasis on the result and disregard everything else, but to me there are still little wins, even in a loss.

Canberra were impressive. Nobody would have picked them to win this one and they just about did it.


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