Coinciding with International Women's Day, the 2011/12 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final was officially launched today, as key members of the two competing clubs, the Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers met at The Point Cafe` in Albert Park to address the media ahead of what promises to be an exciting Grand Final match-up.
With less than 200 general admission tickets left for Sunday’s clash, which will be battled out at the State Netball and Hockey Centre (The Cage) from 3:00pm AEDT, the atmosphere will no doubt be electric.
“This is the first Grand Final I’ve been to – I made a Prelim back in the early 2000s... but this is my first chance at a Grand Final so it’s very exciting,” said Dandenong Rangers head coach Mark Wright, who has led his Rangers side to eight straight wins to earn their spot in the big clash.
It’s been 25 years since two Melbourne-based sides battled it out for the WNBL title, and head coach for Bulleen Tom Maher was pacing the sidelines in that very game, leading the Nunawading Spectres to the title over Coburg. But as he said today, things have changed since then.
“I think the depth has improved immensely,” he said. “I think in’87, your bench wasn’t as strong... now, the depth of the League and the challenges you have trying to scout the whole opposition team, it’s tougher now,” he said.
According to Maher, this depth has perhaps been at its best in the history of the League this year, with many Australian players who have been playing internationally returning home to compete in the current season, and the result has been one of the closest WNBL races in recent memory.
“The depth was incredible this year. Legitimately there were eight teams that could win the championship and I can’t think that that’s happened before,” he said. “It was only a couple of weeks ago that we were working out the ifs and whats so we could hold third position... Dandenong could’ve been working out, can they make the finals,” he said.
After a thrilling final series, with both sides getting past the minor premiers Adelaide Lightning for their ticket to Sunday’s epic encounter, one game remains to decide who will be crowned Champions.
Bulleen star centre Liz Cambage also let her feelings be known about the prospect of not only playing in yet another Grand Final, but playing against the team’s cross-town rivals.
“I think it’s great... we’re such a sporting capital it’s great to have an all Victorian final,” she said. She added about her own emotions ahead of the clash: “If you’re not nervous, you’re not ready."
In recognition of the importance of the event, the Victorian Government is proud to support Sunday's all Victorian Grand Final of the WNBL. Minister Delahunty congratulated the Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers for their outstanding seasons.
"The Boomers and Rangers are great role models for young Victorian girls and women to get active through sport," Mr Delahunty said. "Good luck to both teams in what I expect to be a fantastic match on Sunday."
2011/12 WNBL Grand Final, Bulleen Boomers vs Dandenong Rangers, Sunday March 11, 3:00pm AEDT, State Netball and Hockey Centre