The NBL1 Cobra Women tip-off their 2019 finals campaign this weekend, squaring-off against the Bendigo Braves on the road on Friday night.
Friday’s Qualifying Final will be a tough road test for the #4 seeded Cobras, who face the league-leading Braves and their impressive 19-1 regular season record. The winner of this one will advance to a home Preliminary Final in a week’s time, while the loser faces an ultra-short turnaround, hosting a home Semi Final on Sunday afternoon.
The condensed finals schedule is a result of the recently completed Australian Opals training camp, which was held last week in Phoenix, USA. The camp featured a number of NBL1 stars, including the Cobras Lauren Nicholson, with the league opting to push back the start of the Women’s postseason to ensure all finals-bound teams could compete with their full rosters.
The Cobra Women were without Nicholson for their final regular season game against Dandenong two weeks ago, but proved they have the depth to compete with the league’s best as they dominated the Rangers at home, with Sarah Boothe’s monster 28-point, 23-rebound, six-assist night leading the way.
Friday’s showdown with Bendigo marks the fourth time since 2015 that the two teams have met in the postseason, with the Cobras and Braves battling it out in some spectacular encounters over the past five seasons. Bendigo topped Kilsyth in last year’s SEABL Preliminary Final, while the Cobras defeated the Braves in a classic Conference Championship Game on the road in 2015, a game which wasn’t decided until after the final buzzer.
With Nicholson back in the fold and head coach Sam Woosnam proving she can lead her team to big playoff road wins, Friday night’s matchup is shaping up to be a round one thriller. For the Cobras, a win would see them host a Preliminary Final on Saturday August 10 (time TBC), while a loss sees them return home this Sunday to host an elimination Semi Final at 1pm, which would see them join the Men (3pm vs Bendigo) for a home Finals doubleheader.
You can purchase tickets for Friday’s road game and Sunday’s Men’s home Semi Final below: