The 2023/24 WNBL season started with a bang, with close contests all around already showing potential for yet another nail-biting season.
Round 1 served as the league's Indigenous Round, with each team featuring their unique uniform designed by a local Indigenous artist. This made the weekend all the more special for all teams and players involved, amplifying that the sport can act as more than just a game.
And while the off-court message was important, the on-court action delivered in spades.
Stand out performance: Jordin Canada
Leading the Melbourne Boomers' to their second win of the round, Jordin Canada had a near triple-double against the Southside Flyers on Saturday night. The handy guard had 15 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds -- not an easy feat considering the competition she was up against.
In the first game of the Michelle Timms cup, the Boomers came out on top despite the Flyers keeping things close. Canada used her speed and athleticism to blow by defenders, all while create opportunities for her teammates to get easy scores. Whether she ran the length of the court or was nifty in the half court, she found lanes and made floaters seamlessly. She showed just how good she could be, even without deep range.
Canada will be key for the Boomers this season, particularly while Kristy Wallace and Monique Conti are unavailable.
Most exciting game: UC Capitals vs. Adelaide Lightning
Both teams have a similar game style, full of athleticism and speed, so it was always going to be an exciting game. The match up of Borlase and Jade Melbourne -- two young stars full of potential -- was hot from the get-go. The pair led their teams from the front and gave each other plenty of heat at the same time.
It was a lightning start for Adelaide, Isabel Borlase started strong with a couple of nice drives and a quick five points to her name, a trend that continued for the rest of the clash. Her teammates Lauren Mansfield and Brianna Turner also had a couple of defensive stops which helped put them ahead early.
Borlase didn't look like slowing down and if it wasn't for her being in foul trouble, she might have been even more dangerous. It looked like a new Lightning team out on the floor, it didn't matter who was on court, the offence was flowing, and they were able to keep the UC Caps at an arm's length.
That was until the fourth quarter when their scoring dried up and hot shot Borlase could no longer find the bottom of the net. Credit to the Caps, their defence was superb, forcing turnovers, poor shots and even shot clock buzzers. They capitalised (pun intended) on their length, and with guards like Gemma Potter, Alex Sharp, and Nicole Munger, it's unsurprising that the Lightning had difficulty.
If it wasn't for a huge bank three from Isabelle Bourne in the last minute, it very well could have gone to overtime.
Another exciting aspect of this game was seeing Potter back on court and looking as healthy as ever post back-to-back ACL injuries. There was a huge roar as she entered the game and when she scored her first points.
Surprise of the round: Perth Lynx defeating Sydney Flames
The star-studded line up and the supposed team to beat this season was handed a surprising loss to underdogs Perth. Those playing in the WNBL are of a high calibre, however, on paper, the Lynx team didn't seem to measure up to the Flames. But as we know all too well, it is whoever shows up on the day that will get the win.
Playing with flare and aggression, the Lynx didn't take a backwards step and showed no fear coming up against big names such as Cayla George, Didi Richards, and Lauren Nicholson. It was import Aari McDonald that did a lot of damage for the Lynx, but she was well supported by Anneli Maley, Amy Atwell, and three-point specialists Steph Gorman and Miela Goodchild.
It was a surprise not to see Tess Madgen suit up for the game, and it was clear she was missed by her team.
Round 1 results:
Adelaide Lightning 60 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 68
Perth Lynx 85 defeated Sydney Flames71
Bendigo Spirit 80 defeated by Townsville Fire93
Southside Flyers 70 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 77
UC Capitals 79 defeated by Adelaide Lightning 82