"Today" in Australia, Adelaide will take on Dandenong in the WNBL Preliminary Finals for a chance to meet up with the defending-champion Bulleen Boomers in the Grand Final next weekend. Just like the Euro leagues, I have trouble deciphering the brackets and such despite my at least decent grasp of the English language.
Along with issues in bracket reading, my time zone knowledge is being tested the the maximum on this one. The game is on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. AEDT), which (I think) translates to Saturday at 11 p.m. East coast time. I'm not going to lie, I didn't know that they had a time zone down under that worked a half hour off of the typical! Who knows though - I might be wrong and you might tune in 30 minutes early due to my confusion. But, I digress - on to the basketball.
Adelaide won the regular season with an 18-4 record, but was upset by Bulleen in the semifinals. So perhaps you'd think that the Lightning would have a marked advantage - well, Dandenong is riding a seven-game winning streak and one of Adelaide's losses was a 31-point beatdown at the hands of the Rangers Feb. 10.
Adelaide's player you might know is Abby Bishop. Bishop is in her first season with the Lightning and is averaging 16.7 points on 45.1% shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists this year. Coincidentally, she played with today's opposition, Dandenong, last season. Bishop spent the 2010 WNBA season with the championship Seattle Storm squad.
Jenna O'Hea will be on the opposite side of the court, playing for Dandenong. She played with Liz Cambage and the Boomers the last two seasons before joining the Rangers for her second stint (2005-07). She's been averaging 15.6 points on 41.8% shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season after returning to her homeland after her rookie WNBA season with the LA Sparks.
Another player that I think you should know about is Oklahoma State alumna Tegan Cunningham. She posts 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a night, but had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 17 minutes during their semifinal win. In reverse fashion of Bishop, Cunningham played for Adelaide last year, her first in the WNBL, before switching teams. Tegan was the wing-woman for OSU star Andrea Riley during college. #GoPokes
The Rangers have an American-born player on the team in Brittany Wilkins, from Nebraska. Wilkins played her collegiate basketball at Iowa State, graduating in 2006. The Cyclones always seem to have at least one Aussie on their roster, and I can't help but wonder if this might be an influence in Wilkins getting an opportunity to play abroad in Dandenong.
If you are an Olympic watcher, the Australian Opals squad of 24 players was selected recently, and you can see some potential Olympians in this preliminary final game. Along with Bishop, the talents of veteran Suzy Batkovic and Jennifer Screen will be on display for Adelaide. Joining O'Hea on the Dandenong side is fellow Opal Kathleen MacLeod.
The winner of the preliminary final will advance to face Liz Cambage and the Bulleen Boomers at The Cage in Melbourne on Sunday, March 11 at 3 p.m. Aussie time.