From the court to the sidelines, there will be a strong Australian flavour when the WNBA play-offs begin on Thursday September 14th Australian time.
The top eight finishers in the WNBA regular season split into four best-of-three first-round series with the winners advancing to best-of-five semi-final fixtures. The final two will then do battle over five games for WNBA championship glory.
The Seven Consulting Opals are well represented across playing and coaches ranks.
Cayla George’s Las Vegas Aces finished the regular season top of the ladder with a 34-6 record and now take on eight-seed Chicago featuring Alanna Smith and former Perth Lynx star Marina Mabrey.
Opals head coach Sandy Brondello guided the New York Liberty (32-8) to second seed and they now play the Washington Mystics. Reigning Rachael Sporn medallist and Townsville Fire championship player Tianna Hawkins, who will return to the WNBL this season, is a prime mover for the Mystics.
Opals assistant Paul Goriss is part of the coaching group at Atlanta Dream. The Dream, featuring new Perth WNBL import Aari McDonald and former Townsville player Monique Billings, face the Dallas Wings in a showdown between fourth and fifth-placed teams. New Southside Flyers import Jasmine Dickey is on the Wings roster.
Tokyo Olympian Bec Allen will make her play-offs debut with Connecticut Sun, after crossing from the Liberty in the off-season, who play Minnesota Lynx.
There’s a quartet of familiar faces in the Lynx line-up with Tiffany Mitchell, Lindsay Allen, Bridget Carleton and Rachel Banham all former WNBL imports.
Seattle Storm (Sami Whitcomb, Ezi Magbegor, Jade Melbourne) and Indiana Fever (Kristy Wallace) didn’t reach the play-offs and Whitcomb, Melbourne and Wallace will now return to Australia ahead of WNBL pre-season with their respective teams Townsville, Canberra and Melbourne, while Magbegor will again play in Europe.
Tipping off this Thursday morning AEST, all games are streamed on the WNBA app with selected fixtures on ESPN as below.
Thursday 10am AEST, Sun vs Lynx (Bec Allen)
Thursday 12pm AEST, Aces vs Sky (Cayla George, Alanna Smith)