The Adelaide Lightning and Deakin Melbourne Boomers suffered difficult losses in Super Sunday of the Chemist Warehouse WNBL but now have a chance on Tuesday to hit back quickly at Cairns Pop-Up Arena.
The Boomers remained in Cairns after Sunday’s 15-point defeat at the hands of the Jayco Southside Flyers which now gives them plenty of work to do in that battle for a top two finish.
Melbourne now sits in third spot with a 7-3 record but all they can do is win their three Round 5 matches starting Tuesday against Adelaide, then Friday against Bendigo and Sunday against JCU Townsville Fire.
Should they win all three then their fate could well be decided by how Sunday’s Grand Final rematch between the UC Capitals and Flyers turns out, but what the Boomers can’t afford is a slip up against the Lightning tonight.
The Lightning have now travelled back to Cairns from Townsville after Sunday’s heartbreaking loss on the buzzer to the Perth Lynx. Adelaide still had a chance to force overtime and made a good play with 2.5 seconds on the clock down by two.
Superstar Steph Talbot had a massive game and drove to the basket, and made the shot but she got it off after the buzzer and as a result the Lightning suffered a fourth straight defeat to hold a 4-5 record with a gruelling Round 5 ahead.
That begins tonight against the Boomers before the Lightning take on Villawood Properties Bendigo Spirit on Wednesday, Townsville on Friday and the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames on Sunday.
To remain any hope of playing finals Adelaide will need to win all of them but it starts with shaking off that pain felt of losing how they did against the Lynx and then gearing up for a Boomers team equally motivated coming off their defeat on Sunday as well.
Ezi Magbegor was one Boomers player who couldn’t do much more in the loss to the Flyers with 20 points and five rebounds. That gave her 18.3 points and 9.8 boards throughout Round 4 to be named to the Team of the Round, but she’s much more focused on now bouncing back as a team.
Fresh off being part of the WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm, Magbegor remains confident the Boomers can shake off Sunday’s loss and bounce back strongly starting Tuesday against the Lightning.
“We did a good job of starting well here in Cairns with our first couple of wins and we knew this was going to be a tough game for us like whenever it is when we play Southside,” Magbegor said.
“So it was disappointing to get that loss but we still have a hard stretch coming up so we’ll look to bounce back quickly and focus on this next up game against Adelaide before anything else.
“We will just focus on playing our game and our defence can push our offence to flow well. We definitely have to look back on and now come back out for our next game and learn from this one.”
It would have been a quiet night back at their Townsville hotel on Sunday for the Lightning and a solemn trip to Cairns on Monday after the way they lost in what was virtually a must-win affair against the Lynx.
However, they can’t afford to do anything but come out and start strongly on Tuesday against the Boomers.
Talbot was brilliant on Sunday with 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists going ever so close to forcing the game into overtime.
She hopes the Lightning can now take as much out of this final week to ensure they have some momentum to build on heading towards 2021/22 with a similar playing group.
“We are a young team so I think we just want to get better every game, and improve on the things we need to improve,” Talbot said.
“A lot of the girls are coming back next year and a lot of us are on two-year deals so if we can start building a better bond on the court, off the court then also that will be nice.”
Chris Pike is a freelance contributor to WNBL.basketball
Adelaide Lightning v Deakin Melbourne Boomers
Played at Cairns Pop-up Arena
Tuesday 8 December 2020
5.05pm AEST / 6.05pm AEDT
LIVE on Kayo