WNBL Round 1 – Melbourne Boomers v Adelaide Lightning: The revolution will not be televised

3.00 pm, Saturday 9 October

State Basketball Centre, Melbourne


With the all-consuming AFL season out of the way, other sports surface during the summer months and among these is women’s basketball. The season began for the Melbourne Boomers on Sunday afternoon at the State Basketball Centre against Adelaide Lightning who had lost to Bendigo the night before in overtime.

This season, Alice Kunek steps up as captain of the Boomers, taking the reins from Tess Madgen who is playing in Poland. The Boomers have welcomed back Bec Cole from a lengthy lay off with injury and have added Tegan Cunningham (from Dandenong) and US import Chante Black to the roster.

After the pre-game formalities of handing the WNBL licence to the new Melbourne Boomers ownership group and a minute’s silence to remember Linda Perry, season 2016/17 got underway to a sizeable noise from the crowd and the upgraded sound system pumping out cheesy hits from the 1990s.

Adelaide Lightning got off to a quick start but were pegged back by the Boomers who overcame early shooting inaccuracy to go into quarter time up by 7 points. This season, the Boomers seem tougher than the previous incarnations. The players have the confidence to drive into the paint and take the game on without taking a backwards step. Alice Kunek led the way for the Boomers in scoring and Chante Black brings much-needed strength under the net in the absence of Elyse Penaluna who will miss the season to injury.

The game-high lead to the Boomers was 12 points in the second quarter but the Lightning fought back so that what had seemed like an easy win to the Boomers was in the balance early in the fourth quarter when scores were tied. Both sides suffered from a poor field goal shooting percentage and in the end the Boomers went on to win by 6 points. Laura Hodges was brilliant for Adelaide with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, but this wasn’t enough to get her team over the line.


Much has been written about the failure of the WNBL to secure TV coverage since the ABC pulled the plug on its once-a-week coverage in early 2015. And with competition from Australian rules football, netball, cricket and soccer, the WNBL is often said to be in danger of falling behind. Last season, and in the lead up to this season, rumoured TV deals repeatedly failed to eventuate.

But is TV coverage as essential as it used to be?

Without TV exposure, the Boomers enjoyed a 30% increase in attendance last year, and further increases seem certain given the new ownership group’s extensive promotion at the grassroots level and on social media that resulted in a record opening night crowd of over 1,800.

WNBL basketball is marketed to families with kids – the very kids who pack out basketball stadiums across Melbourne playing in school and club games – so maybe embracing new technology and promoting online streaming is a viable means to reach the technologically savvy younger generation.

Last season the WNBL experimented with streaming games on YouTube, and Deakin University’s Facebook stream of the Boomers v. Lightning game had attracted over 15,600 views by the morning after the game. The on-demand videos available during the Olympics showed that we don’t need fancy production; all we need is video and a little background noise from the crowd and squeaking shoes on the court to enjoy the game. We definitely don’t need the incessant babbling of commentators.


Melbourne Boomers 75 (Kunek 21, Garrick 12, Smart 12, Cole 11)

Adelaide Lightning 69 (Hodges 21, Planeta 12, Roberts 12)

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About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.

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