WNBL fixture for Friday, December 29, 2017.

Who’da thunk that Illawarra and Cairns would play in the highest-scoring game in the NBL so far this season? Also, something something unsportsmanlike foul rule.

WNBL Notes:

The final week of the regular season tips off tonight in Adelaide at Titanium Security Arena; the Lightning host Bendigo as part of a double-header with the 36ers, starting at 4:30pm local time.

The big game of the night is Townsville v Sydney Uni at Brydens Stadium. The two teams are set to face each other in the semi-finals starting on Thursday next week, and the Fire can secure home-court advantage with a win. If Sydney Uni wins they don’t quite secure that second seed, but they will be in the box seat heading into Sunday’s games. The Fire/Flames game is tonight from 6pm AEDT and is being streamed on the Fox Sports website.

The other game tonight is in Canberra, with the Capitals hosting Perth in what is essentially a dead rubber- Perth has already secured the #1 overall seed, and the home team are just playing for pride. The Capitals named their end-of-season award winners on Thursday, with Natalie Hurst earning the team’s Most Valuable Player award; Hurst led the WNBL in assists per game. The Caps’ other award winners were announced here.

Playoff Permutations:

  • Perth have secured the #1 spot and Melbourne are #4; the two teams will face each other in the semi-finals starting next week.
  • Townsville will secure #2 with a win tonight in Sydney. If they lose tonight, Townsville must beat Perth on Sunday and hope that Bendigo beats Sydney Uni in their remaining game.
  • Sydney Uni secure #2 with a win tonight, and either
    – a win against Bendigo on Sunday, or
    – Perth beating Townsville on Sunday.
  • Adelaide, Dandenong, Uni Canberra and Bendigo are eliminated from playoff contention.

NBL Notes:

Just one game on the schedule this evening: Adelaide hosts New Zealand with the men’s game starting at 7:00pm local time (7:30pm AEDT, Fox Sports 503 and NBL.tv). If you’re watching for free, ABC has a replay of the match from 10:29pm- at least in Queensland. Check your local guides.

Illawarra beat Cairns 106-102 last night to improve to 7-9 and move, at least temporarily, into sixth place. The discussion point was again the interpretation of the unsportsmanlike foul rule in transition, after a foul was called on Rotnei Clarke- although it happened much earlier in the game, rather than in the Melbourne/Adelaide game where it was in the final minute. The 32 three-pointers by both teams is the second-highest tally recorded in a 40-minute NBL game (33 is the record), and it was the highest-scoring game all year for the Taipans (they only average 80.3 points per game, the lowest in the NBL).

The unsportsmanlike foul rule continues to spark some discussion. If you don’t feel like watching an 18-minute video on the topic, this 90-second one from Kilsyth Basketball should help– although for mine it only poses more questions. The NBL calls in recent weeks are a bit like the Erin Phillips foul at 0:28 in that clip, where a player is a bit out of position and making a reflex reach for the ball. The bit about not having “legitimate” play at the ball seems to be the contentious part, although the videos are supposed to provide some guidance. But then you get the old stop-the-clock bearhug, like at 0:57 and 1:16, and that isn’t getting called. So… I’unno.

(Note that the fouls are not necessarily being called as unsportsmanlike in the videos; the plays are given as examples of what plays are unsportsmanlike as of late 2017.)