Reflecting on an outstanding 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) here are ten of the talking points that emerged.
1 The Greatest WBC Grand Final
Starting at the top the Division 1 Grand Final was the greatest WBC Final ever witnessed and it was a pleasure to be courtside. Two evenly matched teams put on a show to remember with Auckland Dream eventually triumphing but the real winner was women’s basketball.
2 There were Tall Ferns galore on show
A record number of 22 former or current Tall Ferns played WBC this season. Such a number not only emphasises the depth of quality in the league but also the recognition from the players that the WBC is now a legitimate pathway to stake a claim for international honours.
3 The 2019 WBC was oozing with talent
It would be hard to argue with the selection of players named to the All-Star First Teams but how about the talent in these possible All-Star Second Teams:
Division 1 – Charlisse Leger-Walker (Wizards), Tessa Boagni (Wildcats), Zoe Richards (Gold Rush), Kayla Kiriau (Dream), Ashleigh Kelman-Poto (Breeze), Raquel Sampson (Thunder).
Division 2 – Morgan Ili (Swish), Tiarna Clarke (Zephyr), Amy West (Spirit), Pareunuora Pene (Lady Geysers), Dallas Frederikson (Stealers), Grace Hunter (Wellington).
4 Guy Molloy was watching
The Tall Ferns Head Coach attended the first tournament in Christchurch and when announcing his 14-player squad to defend the William Jones Cup in Taiwan later this month it included ten current WBC players. Congratulations to Ella Fotu, Matangiroa Flavell (both Breeze), Esra McGoldrick, Amy West and Charlotte Whittaker (all North Canterbury Spirit) who will all debut in the black singlet in the coming weeks.
In addition Tanaka Gapare made her international debut at the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup in China back in May.
5 SKY Sport were watching
In a first for the WBC SKY Sport screened nine games from the Finals Tournament live. More to come in the future you would imagine.
6 The Public were watching
An increased number of live streamed games, improved quality of production and the addition of SKY coverage meant the WBC was watched by a greater audience than ever before.
The additional live streaming certainly increased social media comment with many players and followers, both in New Zealand and overseas, commenting positively about the league on a variety of social media platforms.
7 From Russia with Love
Canterbury Wildcats Russian import Marita Davydova was all class. She embraced our culture, our game and most importantly her team – not every import does that. Refreshingly I don’t think she complained about a refereeing decision all season, a shrug of the shoulders or a shake of the head was the height of her dissention.
Oh and she could play a bit as well! Come back anytime Marita.
8 Terrific teenage talent
Every team had quality teenage talent of course and there are too many to mention all by name but here are a few high school standouts to follow in the coming years.
Tayla Dalton, Emme Shearer, Helen Matthews, Hannah Matehaere, Raquel Sampson, Ella Bradley, Jordyn Maddix, Hannah Crabtree, Dekoda Te Autu, Jorja Miller, Jyordanna Davey
And that’s without mentioning WBC Junior Player of the year Charlisse Ledger-Walker who is a seasoned campaigner compared to the aforementioned.
9 Thirty Somethings (in some cases fourty somethings!)
Every team needs that glue player. The ‘veteran’ who has seen it all before, keeps the ‘young guns’ in check and leads by example. How the WBC benefits from having these players involved. Most were making a mark on court before some of their younger teammates were born!
Natalie Visger, Charmian Mellars, Chelsea Terei, Tash Lenden, Arielle Parai, Aroha Haumaha, Annabelle Quinonez, Kat Jones, Jeannie Cameron, Noni Martin and Jodi Hikuroa please return next season, the WBC is richer for your presence.
10 Looking forward
The 2020 season is sure to be bigger and better and I for one can’t wait.