The Bulleen Boomers have announced themselves as the frontrunners for the championship after overcoming the Canberra Capitals in Melbourne on Saturday.
Forty points from superstar Lauren Jackson were not enough to quieten the near on 3,500 people at The Cage, who were witness to the league’s best team, the Global Metals Bulleen Boomers, defeating the Canberra TransACT Capitals, in dramatic fashion, 88-78.
Under the spotlight of the entire basketball nation, the Boomers held strong and rebounded from an 11 point second term deficit to snatch the victory, and a second chance in the finals, out of the grasp of the gutsy Capitals.
“I thought we played awesome.” said Boomers centre Liz Cambage.
“We had a bit of a bad start and just got the nerves out, then we really came together.”
“It just shows you how hard we train, to battle it out until the end.”
And on the atmosphere at the Cage, Cambage was thrilled the game matched up to the hype.
The Boomers, who didn’t take their first lead in the match until the final minutes survived a world class offensive onslaught from the player much of the crowd had turned up to see.
The Caps had not lost since Lauren Jackson’s return to the league, and had dominated proceedings for much of the night. But 31 points in the final term from Bullen, were too much to give away.
Jackson ended the game with 40 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out dramatically in the dying minutes, as her side tried to hold on.
But the real stars shone brightest on the Bulleen side of the court, thanks to masterful performances from Jenna O’Hea (28 points) and Hanna Zavecz (15 points, 11 rebounds), as well as the tireless work and a clutch performance from point guard Sharin Milner.
Hampered by foul trouble throughout the first three quarters, Cambage (18 points) also stood up to the pressure of the game when it mattered most.
“I was a bit frustrated, but you’ve just got to get over it and keep playing hard.”
On four fouls from the beginning of the last term, Cambage was able to last the journey on the floor and contribute eight points for her team.
Adding on her final term input, “I kept my hands out of fouling, so I can’t complain, we won.”
The only other Canberra player in double figures was Carly Wilson who added 11 points.
A game with non stop intensity from both sides played out in a dramatic final term. It saw the Boomers finally slow the scoring of Jackson, turning the defensive screws and forcing multiple uncharacteristic mistakes from Canberra.
An off balance three point shot from Jackson off the backboard kept her side’s hopes alive, but the cool free throw shooting of O’Hea and Milner sealed the win in the final minute, whetting the appetite of WNBL fans for what will surely be an amazing finals series.
GLOBAL METALS BULLEEN BOOMERS 88 (J O’Hea 28, E Cambage 18, H Zavecz 15) bt
CANBERRA TRANSACT CAPITALS 78 (L Jackson 40, C Wilson 11, J Bibby 7)
At The Cage, Melbourne
By Ryan Mobilia
Photos courtey of Melissa Sudero