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Tall Ferns News

Tall Ferns guard Micaela Cocks headed for fifth WNBL Grand Final

Tall Ferns guard Micaela Cocks headed for fifth WNBL Grand Final
The biggest domestic prize in Australasian women’s basketball is on the line in a three-game Grand Final Series beginning Saturday and two New Zealand Tall Ferns will be on opposing teams.

Tall Ferns forward Kalani Purcell is in her rookie season as a professional player for the Melbourne Boomers, who she’s helped guide to the 2017-18 Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final. The debutant will come up against veteran guard and Tall Fern Micaela Cocks, who is a key cog for the Townsville Fire team. Both will showdown in Game One, tipping off in Townsville on Saturday at 6.30pm (local time) and screened live on Australia’s Fox Sport.

There’s no doubt that experience counts for a lot and Cocks is no stranger to the big stage. That really showed in 2016 when she was named the Grand Finals MVP. Remarkably this 2018 Grand Final series will be Cocks fifth in six years.

“It’s very exciting to be in another final, however the job is not done yet. Winning a third WNBL championship is the ultimate goal,” says Cocks.

Townsville signed Cocks in 2011 after a standout NCAA Division 1 career at the University of Oregon where she played four years for the Ducks. Since then, Townsville have enjoyed unprecedented success, reaching the post-season playoffs for seven straight years. During that time they were beaten finalists in 2013 and 2014, and champions in 2015 and 2016. 

“The success of the Fire is due to good people being recruited, which helped create a good culture. It was begun by Chris Lucas, who was the coach when I joined the club. And it’s been continued by Coach Claudia Brassard who has done a great job of influencing that,” says Cocks.

The feeling is mutual as Coach Brassard counts Cocks as a player who leads from the front and drives a culture of working hard.

“As we head into the Grand Final series, I know I can rely on Micaela’s experience and so can her teammates. Our definition of leadership this season is ‘the ability to make those around you better’, Micaela does this for us every day.

“Micaela’s incredible work ethic has added so much to our club culture. I would say with great confidence that her dedication to conditioning her body to the highest standard would be without peer in the League. I recall having to fight with our team physio about who would tell her she couldn’t join us on the floor on a particular day due to injury, knowing how devastated she would be to not be able to participate. Micaela’s dedication and passion to her craft has helped us achieve the incredible success we have experienced over the past seven years.  

“With the various on court roles Micaela has played for the Fire she has proven she’s a highly adaptable athlete that understands the game really well. Having played all over the world for a variety of coaches, she is able to draw on these experiences and contribute some valuable insights to our tactical discussions. I love that she is always trying to educate herself on the game and watches a lot of basketball, talks a lot of basketball and will ask questions when she’s curious about something. This season she’s been asked to play a role off the bench for us after having started the past two seasons. I know that, when I sub her into the game, she will lift the intensity and bring her teammates with her,” says Brassard.

Townsville have beaten Melbourne in all three regular season games this season, but Melbourne will take confidence from the form they are currently enjoying and may be thinking they are due for a win. One of their reasons for that confidence is the outstanding form shown by Tall Fern Kalani Purcell. That form has not surprised Cocks.

“Kalani has been very impressive. She has found her niche and style of game, and she can contribute. She is always getting her hands to the ball. Even if she doesn’t come up with the ball, she is always going after it. She is always getting rebounds, steals and points. I have been really impressed and feel she will only get better.”

One Australian basketball scribe described Purcell as the Mika Vukona of New Zealand women’s basketball. The 22 year-old is second on Melbourne’s statistical chart for rebounds (7.3 per game), assists (3.2pg), steals (1.4pg) and also averages 5.5 points per game outing.

“That’s how I would describe her too,” agrees Cocks. “She does so many other good things on the floor that statistics don’t capture. She is a very aggressive player – she’s a ‘Purcell’ after all! So on the court we will compete, but after we will be sweet as.”

The first two games are already sold out with close to three thousand fans who will pack out the Townsville Stadium on Saturday night. For Game Two, upwards of 3,500 are clamoring for seats at Melbourne’s State Basketball Centre on Thursday 18 January. 

2017/18 WNBL Grand Final Series:

Game One: Saturday 13 January, Townsville Fire v Melbourne Boomers. Townsville Stadium, 6:30pm (local time).
Game Two: Thursday 18 January, Melbourne Boomers v Townsville Fire. State Basketball Centre, 7:30pm (local time).
Game Three (If required): Sunday 21 January, Townsville Fire v Melbourne Boomers. Townsville Stadium, 6:00pm (local time).


 

 

 

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