16/04/2024

Melbourne Boomers celebrating their second championship. (Photo: Melbourne Boomers - Facebook; Design: Will Cuckson)

The Melbourne Boomers won their second championship in the club's history after beating the talented Perth Lynx in one of the best grand final series in the past decade.

The Melbourne Boomers won their second championship in the club’s history after beating the talented Perth Lynx in one of the best grand final series in the past decade.

Snapshot

Finishing position: 1st (12 wins, five losses)

The Melbourne Boomers finished on top of the ladder at the end of the regular season with 12 wins and five losses. In the Semifinals, the Boomers were too good for the Lighting, winning both games comfortably.

In a best of three Grand Final series – Melbourne was able to come back from 0-1 down to beat Perth to claim its second WNBL championship.

During the offseason, the Boomers well and truly set their sights firmly on winning this year’s championship. They built a roster to have immediate success by bringing in two imports – Lindsey Allen and Tiffany Mitchell to complement their local Australian contingent in Tess Madgen, Ezi Magbagor, and Cayla George.

It was a fascinating Grand Final series with an array of talent on both teams. Although Melbourne earned the home advantage in the series – it was taken from them straight away by a red hot Perth team – who won on the road comprehensively.

Game 2 in Perth was one of the best WNBL games we have seen in this country for some time. In a tight contest, it came down to three Marina Mabrey free throws – which if she had converted would have sent the game into overtime. Luckily for the Boomers, she missed the third from the charity stripe which set up a Game 3 decider in Melbourne.

Melbourne capitalised early in Game 3 in front of its home fans and rode the momentum for the rest of the game to see it to victory. The Boomers’ players and staff were visibly emotional after the win – expressing how important winning this championship was to them all.

More WNBL Season Reviews:

WNBL 2021/22 Season Review: Perth Lynx

WNBL 2021/22 Season Review: UC Capitals

WNBL 2021/22 Season Review: Bendigo Spirit

What Worked:

On the court – Melbourne became the best defensive team in the competition which ultimately helped it win more games than any other team and only drop one game in the finals.

In its 17 regular-season games, the Boomers held opposing teams to an average of 66.9 points per game. In the finals series, Melbourne kept its opponents to an average of 70.4 points per game.

As good as they were defensively, the Boomers were also potent on the offensive end with a plethora of scoring options, finishing the season with an equal top shooting percentage with Perth with 42.9 per cent.

Combined with their great defence and solid shooting percentage – the Boomers took care of the ball- averaging just 11 turnovers a game – the lowest in the league.

A team that can play both ends of the floor with consistency and efficiency is hard to come by and Melbourne was able to do that more often than not.

Cayla George was deadly from long range as well as a great screener for her teammates and Lindsay Allen could hurt you from beyond the arc and also at the ring.

Tess Madgen, a combo guard who unselfishly looked to get her teammates open. She also had the ability to light it up from deep and finish inside the paint with contact.

Ezi Magbegor used her athleticism and length to average 15 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, her influence was such that she earned an MVP nomination. Tiffany Mitchell brought her speed, basketball IQ and WNBA experience to the team as well as her elite defensive skills.

But it was what happened off the court which needs to be highlighted, the bond this group of players had for each other and the coaching staff was evident and is what ultimately brought them the championship. 

Losing Game 1 in the manner they did with a lack of energy and purpose provided them with the spark needed to win Game 2. Melbourne does not end up winning the series without belief in each other and a special connection.

The Boomers were incredibly resilient to come back from 0-1 in the grand final series to blow out the Lynx in Game 3.

What didn’t:

The only thing that didn’t work for the Boomers this season was Game 1 of the Grand Final series, however, it could be considered the catalyst for the series win.

Club MVP:

The Melbourne Boomers are yet to announce any club award recipients. With such a talented roster it’s hard to identify just one player that stood out as the club’s MVP, however, it’s difficult not to award the Rachael Sporn Medalist Lindsey Allen the club’s MVP.

The 27-year-old averaged 14 points and four assists per game during the regular season but what was most impressive was her end of season form.

In her last nine games of the season including the finals – she averaged 18 points per game. In five of those games, she also averaged five or more assists.

Her performance in Game 2 against the Lynx in Perth – in what was a must-win game will go down in history as one of the greatest WNBL finals performances.

Although her statistics are impressive, it’s Allen’s basketball IQ and leadership that were outstanding. She provided the Boomers with a general on the floor that wasn’t afraid to take the big shots or play unselfish basketball and facilitate for her teammates.

Looking ahead:

The Boomers have a new head coach- Chris Lucas taking over from Guy Molloy who is heading over to New Zealand full time to focus on coaching locally and fulfilling his commitments as Tall Ferns Head Coach.

Lucas brings a wealth of experience with him – winning two championships with Townsville in 2015 and 2016 with current Boomers co-captain Cayla George.

Lucas will no doubt be looking to build on the success of the club whilst implementing his style of game. Lucas is known for being a creative coach and challenging his team to be adaptable, which will be a change in coaching styles from Molloy.

Now that they have secured their head coach, the Boomers will be looking at the free agency market to build their roster. One player they will be without is centre Ezi Magbegor who has signed to play in Europe post her WNBA season with Seattle.

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