Perth Lynx host the Townsville Fire in game 1 of the 2016 WNBL Grand Final series, the Lynx’s first Grand Final appearance since 1999.
Perth basketball is currently riding a huge wave, and the Lynx will be hoping to continue the form of their NBL counterpart the Perth Wildcats who won the NBL Grand Final. However with the championship on the line, the Townsville Fire will be keen to continue their quest for redemption after their disappointing loss to the Lynx in the semi-final, which seems to be a driving factor for the reigning champs.
The Fire made a statement against the Stars last weekend; they were relentless and played every minute at high intensity. The effort displayed last weekend ensured there is no doubt the reigning champs won’t be going down without a fight.
The Fire will however have a tough defensive assignment ahead, with plenty of Lynx stars capable of making huge impacts on the scoreboard.
Sami Whitcomb and Carley Mijovic, dubbed the ‘splash sisters’ for their combined 71 3-pointers in the past 8 games, are extremely damaging from beyond the arc and will no doubt be a major focus for the Fire. Whitcomb has been shooting the lights out for the Lynx all season, and was rewarded for her efforts by finishing as the season’s second highest leading scorer and the leader for steals, averaging 2.8 per game.
The Lynx’s athletic roster and ability to run the floor has been their strength all season, and of course their shooting ability. They have a dynamic group who have all been able to mesh well and compliment each other’s style of play.
Betnijah Laney has been an emerging star all season and has cemented herself as a key player for the Lynx, starring in the semi-final by finding her way to the rim to score 23 points, grab 8 rebounds and make 4 assists. However, the Lynx will also have to stop the season’s leading scorer, Suzy Batkovic who was the powerful force behind the Fire’s win over the SEQ Stars last weekend. Batkovic top scored with 31 points, showing that she was fully recovered from the sickness which undermined her performance against the Lynx in the semi-final.
The season’s leading rebounder Cayla George, will also be a huge danger for the Lynx as she will be looking to continue her performance from last week where she managed to grab 16 rebounds in total and 11 points on the scoreboard.
The Lynx have had an extra week of preparation for the Championship, which will no doubt be important ahead of the 3 game series, however the Fire are coming off some excellent form displayed in their preliminary final and this could positively impact them early on.
The ability to execute for the entire four quarters will be the major factor, both these teams have proven their ability to do just that, and will largely be relying on their defensive pressure to counteract the opponent’s ability to do so.
The last times they met?
Semi-Final – Perth 91 defeated Townsville 72 at Townsville
Perth: Betnijah Laney (23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Sami Whitcomb (21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals), Carley Mijovic (21 points, 9 rebounds).
Townsville: Natalie Novosel (15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal), Cayla George (12 points, 11 rebounds), Suzy Batkovic (11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists)
The Difference: Perth’s shooting and their hunger for getting after the ball at every opportunity.
Round 18 – Perth 82 defeated Townsville 69 at Perth
Perth: Sami Whitcomb (20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals), Betnijah Laney (16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists), Tessa Lavey (13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
Townsville: Suzy Batkovic (19 points, 10 rebounds), Cayla George (11 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists), Natalie Novosel (13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists).
The Difference: Townsville managed to match up against Perth on most levels except for Perth’s shooting from the 3 point arch. Perth shot 8 of them to Townsville’s 2, proving just how damaging their shooting is.
Round 12 – Townsville 77 defeated Perth 71 at Perth
Townsville: Suzy Batkovic (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocked shots), Mia Murray (15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists), Cayla George (13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists)
Perth: Sami Whitcomb (19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), Betnijah Laney (16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists), Tessa Lavey (18 points, 2 assists, 1 steal).
The Difference: The Fire worked better as a team and were more poised, with 19 assists in total and 55% shooting accuracy from the field.
Round 8 – Townsville 91 defeated Perth 81 at Townsville
Townsville: Cayla George (21 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists), Suzy Batkovic (16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Natalie Novosel (15 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists).
Perth: Sami Whitcomb (28 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), Betnijah Laney (20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists), Nat Burton (8 points, 8 rebounds).
The Difference: Townsville’s Cayla George’s rebounding was phenomenal for the Fire, and her presence inside the key alongside Batkovic was their winning difference.
With the hefty travelling from Perth to Townsville, it will be a crucial factor for both teams to lock in Game 1. We can expect a punishing display from the Fire who will be eager to assert their physicality from the start. Whilst the Lynx will be clinical in their approach and athletic in their ability, proving throughout the season that they can handle tight pressure situations.
Wattle Valley WNBL 2015/16 Grand Final Series
Game 1: Saturday 12th March 7pm at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Game 2: Friday 18th March 7pm at Townsville RSL Stadium.
Game 3: Saturday 20th March 7pm at Bendat Basketball Centre.