Nunawading Spectres shooter Nicole Romeo was dropping baskets and Geelong Supercats star Sara Blicavs was getting nervous.
On the line was a place in the SEABL East Conference Final against Dandenong Rangers and both clubs had strong claims on that remaining place after a close season.
Blicavs has also been estranged from her teammates during the season after playing for Australia at the World University Games and then working her way into Brendan Joyce’s Australian Opals side which secured a place at the Rio Olympics next year by beating New Zealand.
She had only returned to the team ahead of its’ major Semi-Final loss to Dandenong the previous week and she made a slightly rocky landing.
“It was challenging,” Blicavs said.
“I was really hoping we would have a round game before the finals so I could get used to how SEABL is played again.
“I’d gone from WNBL to SEABL then from Opals back to SEABL.
“When I got back I was a bit out of control, a bit erratic - I was really nervous before our first finals game because I hadn’t been with the girls for so long.
“I hadn’t played with them and they had got used to playing without me but it worked out fine, they are such a good group that I slotted straight back in.”
While the Supercats would lose to Dandenong, they came out much better against the Spectres but still faced a close finish as Romeo started heating up and Kate Oliver looking damaging.
Romeo tied the scores at 50-50 with four minutes to play but Blicavs put her side ahead for the last time with a lay-up before the aggressive Alex Duck drew Romeo’s fifth foul.
Duck made several late free throws and would shoot 12-13 from the foul line for the game.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking at the end there when Romeo started hitting her three-pointers and clutch shots,” Blicavs said.
“Thank god she fouled out with a 1:30 to go because she can throw it up from anywhere and loves those high pressure shots.
“They got out by six or more points in the third quarter but we kept up our defensive intensity and stayed as a team.
“We didn’t go individual and kept getting through our offences - we kept attacking the ring and had a lot of energy - I was just stoked we got the win and another shot at Dandenong.”
Duck (20 points) and Blicavs’ 19 points, ten rebounds) were the foundation of the Supercats’ 57-53 win.
Now they will attempt to beat the Rangers who will start as the favourites after a strong season.
“They beat us twice during the year and both times pretty easily but when everyone is switched on and plays well we are a decent team and hard to stop,” Blicavs said.
“We did that in the first half against Dandenong then had lapses in the second half.
“It’s going to be about individual accountability and staying with them for 40 minutes.”
It may seem awkward from the outside but Blicavs will become a Dandenong Ranger, the WNBL kind, when the SEABL season finishes and will be playing under Larissa Anderson, the SEABL Rangers’ coach.
“I’m already training with Dandenong once a week and there are maybe four or five girls from the SEABL team in the WNBL side,” Blicavs said.
“But when I play against them it’s completely different and I don’t think about WNBL.
“Geelong has been really supportive and let me have Monday training off so I can train with Dandenong WNBL so I’m sure I will hear it from the Rangers’ girls this week.”
Before WNBL starts, Blicavs wants to win something for the Supercats’ women who lost the conference final last year and desperately want a banner to hang at the Arena.
“I think last year was the highest the women’s side had gone before,” Blicavs said.
“The atmosphere at Geelong for the Nunawading game was awesome so we would love to win a banner, if only so we can hang a women’s banner at Geelong.”
*Kilsyth’s Steph Cumming bounced back from illness last week to have 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the Cobras’ win over Launceston.
*Cobras veteran Sarah Parsons was exceptional against the Tornadoes with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
*Tornadoes point guard Lauren Mansfield had a big night with 31 points, nine rebounds while Mikaela Ruef (ten points, 13 rebounds) and Ally Wilson (12 and six) starred.
*Geelong’s Alex Duck (20 points) made 12-13 free throws as the Supercats beat Nunawading while Sara Blicavs had 19 points, ten rebounds, three assists and three steals.
*Spectres centre Kate Oliver had 13 points, ten rebounds and three blocks while Nicole Romeo tallied 14 points including three three-pointers and four assists.
SEABL media links
*Leader’s Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) reports on Kilsyth’s win over Launceston. Report: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/outer-east/kilsyth-use-second-chance-to-advance-to-seabl-grand-final-showdown-with-bendigo/story-fnrwkho1-1227504793070
*Hustwaite also reports on Nunawading’s disappointment after losing to Geelong. Report: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/east/nunawading-spectres-tumble-out-of-seabl-finals-series-after-failing-to-execute-against-geelong-supercats/story-fngnvmqa-1227504874936
*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@WesCusworth) reports on Geelong’s win over Nunawading. Report: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/seabl-lady-supercats-to-play-dandenong-in-conference-final/story-fnjuhs0b-1227506120713
*The Examiner’s Terry Morris reports Launceston coach Reece Potter is proud of his side’s season after their exit against Kilsyth. Report: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3318506/potter-proud-of-torns/?cs=96
*Canberra Times’ Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) reports on the WNBL’s working towards a new TV deal. Report: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/basketball/wnbl-racing-against-clock-to-find-new-tv-deal-in-time-for-october-tipoff-20150824-gj6km4.html
*Tuxworth also reports on Canberra Capitals’ losing their star import. Report: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/basketball/belgian-signing-ann-wauters-withdrawal-body-blow-for-undersized-capitals-20150829-gjakuh.html