Storm teammates Suzy Batkovic-Brown and Lauren Jackson will see their teams square off with a trip to the WNBL’s Grand Final on the line in Saturday’s Preliminary Final in Sydney. However, barring an unlikely return to the lineup, Batkovic-Brown will be sidelined by a knee injury for the Flames’ matchup against Jackson’s Canberra TransAct Capitals.
Without Batkovic-Brown, Sydney was no match for the top-ranked Bulleen Boomers in a Major Semifinal that was more lopsided even than the 72-55 final score indicates. Bulleen led by as many as 31 points. Sydney totaled just 34 points in the first three quarters, shot 27 percent from the game and had no one outside of Natalie Porter and Mikaela Dombkins score more than six points. Four Boomers scored double-figures.
Canberra had a much easier time of things on Sunday despite playing without one of its starters – guard Jessica Bibby, whose WNBA rights are held by the Storm, missed the game and is out indefinitely after her brother passed away last week. With their absent teammate top of mind, the Capitals crushed the Townsville Fire 70-39 to advance. Abby Bishop led Canberra with 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Jackson posted 16 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
The Flames will have home-court advantage, but the Capitals have the momentum going into their showdown. Canberra defeated Sydney in overtime at home last month.
If the Flames needed any extra motivation, they may have gotten it from Bulleen coach Tom Maher (Jackson’s former coach with Canberra and the Opals National Team), who questioned Sydney’s ability to create a rematch in the Grand Final after the Boomers’ easy win.
“Seeing that, I can’t see Sydney getting through,” Maher told The Herald Sun. “But if they did get through, they’d have to wrestle with the demons. (The real margin) was 30, so they’ll have to wrestle with those things.
One other note: Former UW guard Nicole Romeo is one of Jackson’s teammates in Canberra and talked to Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times, who was catching up with the Huskies’ 2007 recruiting class that left the school. Romeo talked about the experience of playing with Jackson.
Is talk of a “Lauren Jackson” mania true?
The Jackson mania! Haha yes, this is very true. She probably wouldn’t like me saying this statement is true as she is quite shy, but since she has joined the league the crowd numbers around the country have increased dramatically. Lauren is an amazing ambassador for not only Australian basketball, but for women’s basketball world-wide and us Aussies couldn’t be happier having her home. After games she finds herself sitting for hours signing autographs and photos, always with a smile on her face. So, she is definitely someone to aspire to be and a great role model for the kids.