WNBL National Cup Final: Thames Valley vs Ipswich - The view from around the league

Sunday's WNBL National Cup Final between Thames Valley Cavaliers and Endeavor Ipswich Basketball Club has created a buzz across the league.

Thames Valley, who lifted the Cup last year by beating Reading Rockets, are aiming for back-to-back victories, whereas Ipswich are looking to claim their first piece of senior silverware since 2020.

The two teams have split their WNBL1 games so far this season, with both winning on the road.

Ipswich secured a 92-71 away win over the Cavaliers in October behind 18 points from Harriet Welham.

But Thames Valley gained a measure of revenge just last week as a game-winning score from Haylee Miller handed them an 88-87 victory at Copleston.

"It'll be a close match-up for sure," said Bristol Academy Flyers' Hannah Wallace. "Ipswich are in great form, but TVC can never be counted out and will push them all the way to the buzzer."Β Β 

"It's going to be an exciting Cup final with two great teams," echoed Loughborough Riders head coach Tor Freeman.

Thames Valley won the WNBL National Cup in 2023/24

A battle of contrasting styles

Freeman and his Riders side have come up against both Thames Valley and Ipswich this season with mixed results.

On the opening day of the season, Loughborough recovered from a slow start to record a 61-57 home win against TVC.

And in the return match before Christmas, the Riders triumphed again 80-76 but the week before, they suffered a 90-81 loss to Ipswich in Suffolk.

"It will be a battle of two teams with contrasting styles of basketball," Freeman said.

"TVC have a strong interior presence with Kat Goldsby and Helene Trailin capable of big-time performances. And Ipswich play a very up-tempo offence led by Harriet Welham and Liv Forster."

This view is shared by Flyers guard Wallace, who, like Freeman, secured a 71-66 win over the Cavaliers in November but fell to Ipswich 82-61 in December.

"Ipswich likes to shoot the ball and is great at finding rhythm," she said.

"If TVC can disrupt the shooters and make them uncomfortable, then they have a great chance of coming out on top."

"This is a really interesting final, as both teams beat each other during the regular season, so it’s a hard game to predict as it could honestly go either way,” added City of Birmingham Rockets coach Ryan Emery.

"TVC have the advantage on the inside with their size and Kat Goldsby and Robyn Ainge being able to defend being an essential factor.

"Ipswich have the advantage from deep and will really look to push the tempo and draw fouls."

Reading Rockets guard Kristina Karpova believes that Ipswich will be motivated following last Saturday's loss at home to the Cavaliers.

"After last weekend, Ipswich will come out fighting," she said.

"If Welham, Forster and [Christabel] Osarobo are able to play their game and score 15 points each, I don't see TVC competing with that.

"But if TVC can stop that threat and their bigs have a good game, Ipswich could struggle."

Who will win?

Tor Freeman (Loughborough Riders head coach) – Ipswich

Hannah Wallace (Bristol Academy Flyers guard) – Ipswich

Ryan Emery (City of Birmingham Rockets head coach) – Ipswich

Kristina Karpova (Reading Rockets guard) - Ipswich

You can be part of the action at the National Basketball Performance Centre with the Junior and Senior National Cup finals taking place in one action-packed weekend of basketball.

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Words by John Hobbs