Tactix boilover leaves Finals Series in limbo
The Silvermoon Tactix left the make-up of the Finals Series up in the air after producing the upset of the season when posting a 57-46 win over the high-flying SKYCITY Mystics in Auckland on Sunday.
With nothing to lose and in their last game of the season, the bottom-of-the-table Tactix showed scant regard for the formbook as they systematically dismantled the previously in-form home team.
The Mystics looked a shadow of the team they have presented in recent weeks and now have an anxious wait after opening the door for WBOP Magic to sneak past them and into the Elimination Final.
Putting on their best game of the season, a passionate and gritty Tactix held their poise, veteran campaigner Anna Thompson and feisty defender Temalisi Fakahokotau (in her 50th combined national league match) standouts for the visitors.
Apart from Mystics defender Anna Harrison missing from action with a minor injury niggle, there were no surprises in either line-up.
It was business as usual early on for the home side, young defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson continuing her recent run of strong form as the Mystics sprung out to a four-goal lead before the Tactix made their move.
With shooters Thompson and Brooke Leaver finding their timing and connections, the visitors rallied on the back of securing more turnover ball, their urgency and accuracy pushing them into the lead.
At the other end, athletic defender Fakahokotau made a complete nuisance of herself in unsettling Bailey Mes, putting the normally reliable shooter off her game as the visitors jumped out to a 17-14 lead at the first break.
With their tails up and confidence growing, it was all the Tactix on the resumption. The errors continued to pile up for the home team, the visitors enjoying a 7-1 run in the opening five minutes.
Fakahokotau, who gathered six intercepts and four deflections throughout the game, continued her excellent containing job on Mes. At the other end, Tactix stalwart and birthday girl Thompson was a strong presence under the hoop and well-supported by Leaver.
An increasingly frustrated Mystics lacked volume, the Tactix proving a point with their extra supply to forge a handy 33-22 lead at the main break.
The home side raised the intensity to eat into the Tactix lead at the start of the third quarter but the visitors weathered the storm to retain control.
The Mystics struggled to make headway on attack, fearsome of letting the ball go in the face of the outstanding threat of Fakahokotau. It was, however, a different story at the other end, the much-maligned Tactix attack line having an outing to savour. Thompson and Leaver outplayed Sokolich-Beatson and Storm Purvis to keep the Tactix scoreboard ticking over.
A ragged-looking Mystics were let down by an ever-increasing error rate as the Tactix maintained their hold when leading 42-32 at the last break.