WBC Preview Round 8

WBC Preview Round 8

The final round of the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) regular season features four games, all of which have a bearing on the semi-final make up.

Waikato Wizards and Auckland Dream match up against winless Taranaki Thunder and are in prime position to take the top two places on the table come Sunday evening.

Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats are guaranteed a top four spot and should they get the better of Harbour Breeze at Cowles Stadium they will lock in third place on the ladder.

Regardless of the result on Saturday the Breeze should be the fourth qualifiers.  That said there is a remote possibility AM I FIT Otago Goldrush could pip them at the post.  That possibility will involve an unlikely scenario unfolding over the weekend – see the Goldrush v Breeze preview below.

Saturday June 29, 1pm – Waikato Wizards v Taranaki Thunder at St Peter’s School, Cambridge - Livestream

Despite being without a win this season it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Taranaki Thunder this season as Campaign Manager Bex Langton explains.

The goal was this year to rebuild numbers, establish a wider support base, be the best possible hosts for teams visiting our region, and to develop our own tautoko - excellence, education, energy and empowerment.  We feel that we have succeeded in doing all of those things.”

On the playing front the Thunder welcome back the Opunake pair of Harata Coleman and Rochelle Fourie.

The Wizards will field the bulk of the squad that claimed two road wins last weekend.  Back at the helm will be head coach Anthony Corban, just returned from Amsterdam where he guided the Tall Ferns to tenth place at the FIBA 3X3 Women’s World Cup.

Predicted Starters

  • Wizards - Krystal Leger-Walker, Natasha Lenden, Ella Bradley, Kelcy Ballantyne, Charlisse Leger-Walker
  • Thunder – Simone Cook, Teesha Smith, Eva Langton, Tayla Murray, Rochelle Fourie.

Key Numbers

  • Thunder forward Rochelle Fourie leads the league in Two Point Scoring Percentage having shot 28 from 46 at 61%.
  • Ella Bradley is having a fine all-round season for the Wizards - she is fifth in the league in rebounding (7.8rpg), fifth in steals (2.0spg) and tenth in points scoring (12.4ppg). 

Saturday June 29, 7.30pm – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats v Harbour Breeze at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch - Livestream @canterburywildcats

The Harbour Breeze would like a win not only to carry momentum into the play-offs but also take away the possibility of a capitulation against the AM I FIT Otago Goldrush the following day souring an otherwise promising regular season campaign.

Ella Fotu missed the defeat at the hands of the Wizards last week due to university commitments but is expected back in an otherwise unchanged Breeze lineup.

No changes for the Wildcats. The 2017 champions will want to finish the regular season in style - they won 69-62 when the teams last met back in early May.

Predicted Starters

  • Wildcats – Marita Davydova, Tessa Boagni, Tessa Morrison, Shea Crotty, Laken Wairau
  • Breeze – Chelsea Terei, Yume Negishi, Akiene-Tera Reed, Deena Franklin, Penina Davidson

Key Numbers

Marita Davydova leads the league rebounding count amassing 139 rebounds in total, that’s almost twice as many as Ella Bradley (Waikato) who is second with 70.  Fair to say the Russian import is dominating that statistical category.

Breeze forward Penina Davidson is averaging a double-double of 10.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

Sunday June 30, 2.30pm – Taranaki Thunder v Auckland Dream at TSB Stadium, New Plymouth

The Taranaki Thunder play their last home game of the season hoping to reward the Taranaki faithful with a win. The team’s leading scorer Raquel Sampson, averaging 14.7 points per game will be available after missing the trip to the Waikato.

The task of getting that elusive victory will be far from straightforward with the league leaders Auckland Dream in town.

Having lost three games on the trot the Dream will roll out some of their big guns with Tall Ferns Jordan Hunter and Natalie Taylor returning to the fray. Kalani Purcell arrives back in Auckland on Wednesday from international duty with the Tall Ferns at the FIBA 3X3 World Cup. Team management will assess her availability upon her return.

A win will see the Dream clinch the WBC Division 1 regular season title.

Predicted Starters

  • Thunder - Simone Cook, Teesha Smith, Eva Langton, Tayla Murray, Rochelle Fourie.
  • Dream – Amanda Buck, Jordan Hunter, Natalie Taylor, Beks van Kuyk, Hailey Moala

Key Numbers

  • Averaging 9.8 points per game Tayla Murray leads the Thunder in scoring this season with 78 points to her name.
  • Dream point guard Jordan Hunter leads the league in assists averaging 4.4 dimes per game.

Sunday June 30, 3pm – AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush v Harbour Breeze at More FM Arena Edgar Centre, Dunedin - Livestream

Otago will need horseshoes, four-leaf clover and all their other lucky charms in place if they are to grab a semi-final spot at the eleventh hour.

If the Breeze win at Cowles Stadium on Saturday the two teams will simply be playing for pride in this one. If however the Wildcats prevail then the door will be ajar, albeit only just, for the AM I FIT Otago Goldrush to squeeze through and secure a place in the semis.

Only slightly ajar because having lost 85-47 to the Breeze when the two teams met earlier in the season only a 37-point victory would be enough to earn Goldrush the opportunity to defend the title they won so handsomely in 2018.

Goldrush, having lost the Mainland derby to the Wildcats last weekend, will be keen to complete their regular season commitments with a win, no matter what the margin, in front of their home fans.

Both teams are expected to be close to full strength.

Predicted Starters

  • Gold Rush – Natalie Smith, Soraya Umaga-Jensen, Zoe Richards, Bronwyn Kjestrup, Nicole Ruske
  • Breeze – Chelsea Terei, Yume Negishi, Akiene-Tera Reed, Deena Franklin, Penina Davidson

Key Numbers

  • Zoe Richards has been hugely influential since returning to the team following her commitments at Eckerd College in Florida. The Goldrush forward is averaging a team high 17.5 points per game.
  • Breeze guard Tayla Dalton leads the league in the three-point shooting percentage category - 10 from 26 at 38.5%.

Article by Mike Lacey

WBC Division 1 Standings

  • 6-3 *Auckland Dream, *Waikato Wizards
  • 5-4 *Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
  • 5-3 Harbour Breeze
  • 4-5 AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
  • 0-8 Taranaki Thunder

*Confirmed semi-finalists.


Watch selected WBC games through livestream on BBNZ's Facebook @basketballNZ hashtag #NZWBC or website www.nz.basketball/tv.

  • Saturday June 29 – Waikato Wizards v Taranaki Thunder 1pm at St Peters School, Cambridge
  • Saturday June 29 – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats v Harbour Breeze 2:30pm at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
  • Sunday June 30 – AM I FIT Otago Goldrush v Harbour Breeze 3pm at More FM Arena, Edgar Centre, Dunedin


Available for all game click here.

Season Stats

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