THE WNBL semi-finals have arrived, and there are just four teams left in contention to take out the ultimate prize and hold up the championship trophy in the coming weeks.
With two matchups set to determine who books a place in the Grand Final series, which will follow the same format as the semi’s and be best of three games.
The action kicks off on Wednesday night, with the first matchup seeing another installment in the Melbourne Derby, with the Southside Flyers set to take on the Melbourne Boomers in what should be an enthralling series.
The two teams have played in some classic matches over the past few years, and this series should be another chapter in one of the WNBL’s best rivalries.
WNBL Semi-Final One – Southside Flyers vs. Melbourne Boomers
GAME ONE – Wed. March 8th @7:30pm, State Basketball Centre
GAME TWO – Sat. March 11th @7:30pm, Melbourne Sports Stadium, Parkville
GAME THREE* – Wed. March 15th @7:30pm, State Basketball Centre
How they fared in the regular season
These two teams were widely expected to make up the top-two come season’s end, given their consistency across the first half of the fixture. However, the Townsville Fire stormed home with a 12-game winning streak to take top spot, but both Victorian-based sides still enjoyed strong – albeit remarkably similar – 2022/23 campaigns. They finished with equal records, both producing 15-6 records, and the Flyers finished higher solely based on percentage. Further showcasing how similar these sides performed, both won three of their last five and lost some level of momentum coming into the postseason.
Last time they met
Southside Flyers (81) def. Melbourne Boomers (67)
The Flyers took the chocolates last time these two teams locked horns in what was one of the most anticipated clashes of the season. Kayla Thornton led from the front on the scoring side of things, finishing the match with 20 points, while Abby Bishop and Sara Blicavs controlled the skies and combined for 22 rebounds. The Boomers had some of their big guns restricted by the Southside defence, so expect changes to be made to free up their most dangerous players.
At the WNBL awards earlier this week, Boomer Cayla George was named league MVP, and is certainly the form player of the series. She has the capability to impact the contest in a number of ways with a seriously deep bag across nearly all facets of the game. She has combined well with Tiffany Mitchell, who can turn a match on its head herself, with a serious scoring capability up her sleeve. Penina Davidson looms as a wildcard for Melbourne, given the fact that she has hit the scoreboard in a big way at times this season, and could step up on the big stage.
Thornton has been the Flyers’ most consistent performer over the span of the season, proving to be a reliable source of inside scoring. She was a focal point of Southside’s offence, so expect the ball to find its way into her hands in post-up scenarios. The likes of Maddison Rocci and Rebecca Cole are reliably damaging when setting up the offence with their passing, and many of the team’s good looks start with the ball in the hands of one of these two players.