Adelaide Lightning’s WNBL title hopes given boost with strong ticket sales for grand final clash
Adelaideans have answered a call to arms by buying 2,500 tickets ahead of the Lightning’s do-or-die Women’s National Basketball League grand final clash tonight.
Game two in the best-of-three series against the Canberra Capitals is a must-win for the home team after losing 88-67 in the opener on Saturday.
A WNBL title could potentially save the Lightning, which is in financial trouble after the club’s owner stated in November that it needed $500,000 to stay afloat and more spectators turning up to home games.
The team has been on a winning streak ever since, with coach Chris Lucas last week hoping a turnout of at least 2,000 tonight would help show potential supporters the team deserved a future in Adelaide.
That target was passed yesterday, with a further 500 sold by 7:30 this morning.
“We’ve worked really hard over the past three years to get the program back on track,” Lucas told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“We came bottom two years ago and missed the finals by one game last year, so we’re back on track, finally with a winning program, and now that’s being supported which is tremendous for the state.
“If we can crack 3,000 now, that would be awesome for the players for sure.”
The club’s financial woes will be the furthest thing from the Lightning players’ minds. (ABC News: Brittany Evins)
The Lightning last won a grand final in 2007-08 but still retains the second highest number of grand final wins (five) in the WNBL.
Despite this, the club has suffered a turbulent few years after former owner Vince Marino relinquished the licence to Basketball Australia at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Lucas, who coached the Lightning in 2004-05 and 2006-07, agreed to rebuild the team on a shoestring budget after being reappointed in 2016-17 by new owners Adelaide Basketball, and has worked for free along with other staff.
The State Government last week announced a $150,000 commitment to the Lightning as well as a working group to help resolve its problems.
However it is the same amount the Lightning already receives annually through the Motor Accident Commission, which the Government is abolishing later this year, so it is unclear whether the Lightning will be better off in the long term.
But the club’s financial future is likely to be the last thing on the players’ minds tonight as they turn up to play what is expected to be a “tough night” against the Capitals.
“We weren’t happy with our performance the other night, it just wasn’t us on the defensive end so we’re hoping to make amends tonight,” Lucas said.
“It’s a big game for Adelaide Lightning, so hopefully we can put our best foot forward and take it right up to the Canberra Capitals.”
Game two begins at 6:30pm (ACDT) and will be broadcast on ABC Grandstand.
Game three, if required, will be played in the ACT on Saturday.