The WNBL continues to set the benchmark for women’s sport in Australia, and this Saturday the 2019 grand final series tips off between the University of Canberra Capitals against the Adelaide Lightning.
Nicole Seekamp from the Lightning and Keely Froling from the Capitals who were both pumped and ready for Saturday’s game and both agreed it would be a clash between two similar sides that will both stop at nothing in order to hold aloft the championship trophy.
The Lightning qualified for the WNBL grand final for the first time since 2008 after defeating the Melbourne Boomers in an impressive showcase of women’s basketball. This chance comes after a slow start to a season during which the threat of extinction continued to hang over the club.
“We are really feeling positive!” Seekamp exclaimed in speaking with The Pick and Roll.
“We haven’t really thought about how long it has been but we will be ready to go for the weekend.”
The club has appeared in 19 finals series with seven Grand Final appearances taking the Championship five times (1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 & 2007/08). With a squad boasting deep talent including league MVP candidate Nia Coffey, guard Lauren Nicholson, Kayla Alexander and captained by Seekamp, they have found a way to combine and strengthen across the season.
“We started the season slow and may not have had the best start but we really have put it together at the best time of season,” the Lightning Captain added. “Throughout the season we have peaked and clicked on both end of the floors at the best time to do so – this will really take us towards getting the title.”
For Seekamp, playing with and for this team and this city meant more than just the sport. The role of captain of her team obviously means a lot to the South Australian product.
“It means even more to be voted as captain by group vote,” she further added. “Being from South Australia and growing up here to be able to play for Adelaide – back where it really all began is something really special. To do it with this group also is amazing.”
The Capitals secured their spot in the grand final after comprehensively accounting for the Perth Lynx in a 2-0 semi-final sweep. With seven championships to their trophy cabinet, the opportunity to win another has not come since 2010, but this team is primed to take this series out to end their drought.
“This season has been exciting and the group is a really fun group to play with which I feel shows on the court,” explained Froling.
“Last season was really tough for us in the win loss record and we really took it as a learning experience which has helped throughout this season. Through my time at Canberra this season has definitely been the best one – playing great basketball and with an amazing group.”
With the first game selling out, Froling discussed how important the Canberra fans mean to the Capitals, especially at the business end of the season.
“It is massive for us,” added Froling. “We have awesome fans here and they have been coming out for us all season and it will be a really good game – with hopefully that huge great crowd. Their support really acts as an extra man for us and they really help us with our momentum. They are a massive part of why we have such a good home record.”
Having spoken to the players earlier in the week, it’s understood that the chance to train and get together as a group was to come closer to game day, but the plan was still clear to them both.
“He [Chris Lucas, Lightning coach] hasn’t really said much to us yet, but the first ten minutes will be very important as we need to really limit Canberra during this time,” Seekamp shared.
“They (Canberra Capitals) are a great team with crazy depth who can all really step up. This match up will be two similar teams who can really go at each other and compete.
“Defence is going to win us this game. We have been working really hard on how we will control that and focus on rebounding. It really we be a normal training week away from that.”
“We both love playing in the open court, shooting a lot of threes and then we also have a strong inside presence as do Adelaide with Coffey and their other import. It will be a great battle but at the end of the day I think it will come down to who can maintain the best defence and out rebound the other team,” Froling adds.
Despite losing two of their most important players from last season in Nat Hurst and Kate Gaze, the Capitals squad showed what they could do as a collective. Froling was all too well aware of just how well the Capitals coaching staff had done to assemble such a talented group.
“We have a great group talent wise, but our Gorry [Paul Gorris, Capitals coach] has really recruited a strong group personality wise,” explained Froling. “We have gelled really well, we all want to win this and that’s what is really important while playing basketball as there is no selfishness which helps when you have a new group.
“We just want to win and will work together to make that happen.”
The 2019 WNBL Grand Final will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo, with the call of the game also broadcast live on ABC Grandstand Radio.
— WNBL (@WNBL) February 6, 2019