New Zealand will have strong representation in the upcoming 2018 Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final Series.
Tall Ferns forward Kalani Purcell, in her rookie season as a professional player, has helped guide Melbourne Boomers to the final where they will meet Townsville Fire with veteran guard Micaela Cocks a key cog for the Queenslanders.
The Boomers finished fourth in the regular season but beat top ranked Perth Lynx in the best of three semi-final series 2-0.
Purcell scored 8 points in the 92-76 home victory but it was in the second victory (78-69) in Perth on Friday night that she showed why she is so valuable to Melbourne. She only came up with four points but she produced a game high six assists and further filled the stats line with six rebounds, two steals and a brace of blocks.
The 22 year-old is naturally very happy with the way her initial season in the professional ranks has turned out. “I’m really pleased with the way the first season has gone and delighted to find myself in a Grand Final series at the first attempt,” she says.
Purcell is not one to set the heart rate fluttering with her scoring output but her all-round game is one valued by her teammates and Boomers head coach Guy Molloy.
Molloy is also assistant coach of the Tall Ferns and during the 2017 international campaign witnessed first hand her tireless performances for the New Zealand national team.
The Age basketball journalist Roy Ward described Purcell as being excellent for the Boomers, “One of the best signings in years.”
Rebecca Ott, a third playing member from the 2017 Tall Ferns campaign, also features for the Boomers who will meet the Fire in the best-of-three Grand Final series beginning Saturday January 13th.
In contrast Micaela Cocks is playing in her seventh consecutive post-season campaign for Townsville. The 2016 Grand-Final MVP has been a constant in a team that is headed for a fifth final in six seasons having been victorious in 2015 and 2016 and runner-up in the previous two years.
The Fire also swept their best-of-three semi-final series 2-0 downing the defending champions Sydney University Flames. Cocks had 6 points, 2 rebounds, a steal and an assist as the Fire produced a 78-49 dominant display in Townsville on Thursday.
The experienced guard posted similar numbers in a tight 68-65 win in Sydney on Saturday to set up the title decider against her Tall Ferns buddy next weekend.