- National Teams
It all comes down to this. The top two teams in the league playing in the final game of an eventful season as London Lions meet Sevenoaks Suns to decide the fate of the 2022 WBBL playoffs title.
London were dominant WBBL Championship winners as they completed the set of silverware with a perfect 24-0 record. Mark Clark’s side came through a close encounter with Sheffield Hatters in December, but went on to wrap up the title with a game to spare; beating Essex Rebels at the Copper Box Arena last month.
Sevenoaks pushed the Lions all the way in their league title defence with their first loss coming a week after a heavy Trophy final defeat. Len Busch’s side maintained their pursuit until a midweek defeat at Nottingham Wildcats proved costly and they would finish in second place with just three defeats to their name.
London opened their playoffs campaign with a dominant 92-34 victory over Durham Palatinates before sweeping past the season’s surprise package Caledonia Pride in a 104-59 success to reach their second straight playoffs final. Sevenoaks battled back to see off Essex for a 66-55 win in the quarter-finals before holding off Nottingham to win 66-64 and reach their fourth playoffs final.
33-0 in all WBBL competitions so far this season. The 34th victory would cement the Lions an unprecedented quadruple of titles having already sewn up the league, Cup and Trophy crowns in style. The Lions have won four straight finals dating back to March 2021 with four different final MVP award winners with Azania Stewart and Holly Winterburn this season’s recipients.
Jo Leedham-Warner was announced as the unanimous league MVP in the end-of-season awards as the Lions’ dominance was reflected in a variety of categories. The GB legend gets a showpiece finale at The O2 a decade on from the London Olympics as the Lions play at the venue for the first time with last year’s playoffs success held elsewhere due to the pandemic.
The Suns have a proud record of their own when it comes to The O2. Three visits, three victories. They know a fourth won’t be easy having lost all four meetings with London this season, but they know what it takes to win a playoffs final. The last time Sevenoaks finished the season without a trophy was back in the 2015-16 campaign which speaks volumes of their success of the last five years.
Janice Monakana has announced Sunday’s game will be a farewell to the sport and the GB international may not be alone in bowing out on the big stage. Cat Carr is the leader for the Suns as a two-time league MVP and has a major influence on the team, but the supporting cast will all need to be at their best and Sevenoaks certainly have the talent with summer additions Frankie Wurtz and Jamila Thompson slotting in to an experienced returning core.