2023 ANZ Premiership | Round 12 preview: One last hoorah
IT is the final round of the 2023 ANZ Premiership season, but even with only one round left in the season there is still so much to play out.
The top three is far from decided and even top spot is yet to be decided, so there is so much on the line for most of the sides this weekend.
The weekend begins tomorrow in Wellington with a clash between the Pulse and Tactix..
For the Pulse, they have to win in order to have any hope of finishing top and avoiding next weekend’s Elimination Final, but it may not even matter if the Mystics end up winning both of their games.
For the Tactix they have to win both of their games this weekend in order to stay in contention for finals, because if they drop even one of their matches and the Stars win their match, it is game over for the Tactix.
With World Cup spots on the line, the battle for spots is going to be high, and the battle between Jane Watson and Amelia Walmsley is going to be a fascinating one, as will the one between Aliyah Dunn and Kelly Jury. Two shooters trying to prove why they belong in the World Cup squad up against two of the best defenders in the country who are already firm members of the squad.
The first of two clashes on Sunday is in Auckland between the Stars and Mystics.
This is another clash with plenty of potential connotations on the final ladder. If the Stars win and the Tactix lose the day prior, they are in the finals. If the Stars win and the Tactix win on Saturday, the Stars have to nervously wait 24 hours and see if the Tactix win on Monday to see if they will play finals.
For the Mystics, by the time they take to the court they will know exactly what they have to do to cement their place in the finals and take the top spot. Even if they do slip up against the Stars, they have the luxury of a game in hand to try again to take top of the ladder.
The midcourt in this clash is going to be the area in particular to watch, with Elisapeta Toeava coming up against one of the most dominant midcourt duos this season in Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton.
The one game that has no baring on the final ladder position is the one between the Steel and Magic on Sunday afternoon.
Neither team can make finals but will still want to finish 2023 on a high.
The Magic will particularly want to play well in what will be retiring star Bailey Mes’ final game. Kate Burley and her Steel team mates though will be trying to spoil that party and finally earn their first win of 2023.
The final match of the weekend is between the Mystics and Tactix, and could be one of the most important games of the year or one of the biggest dead rubbers of the year. It all depends on the first two games on the weekend and what has transpired in them.
Grace Nweke will again be aiming to shoot her team to victory, but will not find it easy because she has to get through Silver Ferns’ team mate Watson first to do so.
ANZ Premiership Round 12 Fixture
Pulse vs Tactix – Saturday at 7:15pm – TSB Arena, Wellington
Stars vs Mystics – Sunday at 2:10pm – Pulman Arena, Auckland
Steel vs Magic – Sunday at 4:10pm – ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill
Mystics vs Tactix – Monday at 7:35pm – Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland