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New York, new Commissioner’s Cup champions

In what is probably a preview of the forthcoming WNBA Finals, the New York Liberty beat the reigning champions, the Las Vegas Aces. Again! This time, dethroning them as Commissioner’s Cup winners. Is the title for the W next?

New york, new commissioner's cup champions
New york, new commissioner's cup champions

Yesterday, the NBA released the schedule for their brand new in-season tournament. The NBA Cup, tipping off this fall.

Today, the WNBA hosted their third-straight Commissioner’s Cup.

Having all the best ideas first, the W birthed their in-season tournament idea in 2020. Due to COVID-19, the first title game wasn’t played until a year later, like the Olympics. That was won by Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm.

This year Stewie won it again, now with her new, New York Liberty. Beating out last year’s Commissioner Cup champs, the Las Vegas Aces.

Newly minted Hall of Famer Becky Hammon took a trip to Naismith last weekend, thanks to her playing career with the San Antonio Stars. The franchise that would become the Aces she stacked chips with last season.

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After a cup loss following a recent beating by New York, it seems the Liberty is LV’s bogey team. Can we expect more of the same come finals time?

Holding the best records, East and West, and newly minted playoff berths already in hand. Could you imagine a more perfect pair of teams to play for it all by the end of the playoffs?

Once again, Sabrina Ionescu (12 points) was hitting from deep. Just as she did during her record-breaking downtown trip at the recent WNBA All-star weekend. Ionescu came alive in the fourth quarter, like she had the money ball rack. Before that, it was another long-range shooter that sniped at the Aces.

Leading the Liberty to a resounding 82-63 victory, reigning EuroLeague champion and MVP, Marine Johannes had 17 points off five three-pointers. Showing New York are deeper from downtown than the Hudson River that lies at the feet of the Statue of Liberty.

Kayla Thornton also hit back-to-back threes late in the third on a 15-5 run from NY.

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Anyone can carry the torch by the basketball book. Especially when the two biggest post players in the W, Breanna Stewart (13 points) and A’ja Wilson (9, all in the first half) practically cancelled each other out.

It was big acquisition Jonquel Jones who carried the brightest torch though as MVP. Setting alight player of the game honours with a delightful double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Downtown definition was met with defensive dominance as the Liberty held the Aces to under 65 points for the second time in just over a week. Handing them their first home loss of the season on the Commissioner’s Cup mocked up floor. Imagine if they could do this come playoff time.

This resulted in the Aces coming up dreadfully short from downtown. Only netting 5 of 26. They’ll rebound though. This is just the perfect precursor to the drama that’s to come in the post-season.

Yet the team that originally drafted Hall of Famer Hammon, the New York Liberty, showed they have just as many great guards as they do brilliant bigs. Former Chicago champion Courtney Vandersloot, swiped from the Sky in the off-season, doubled-up with 11 points and 10 assists.

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This balanced attack has left the star-studded Aces walking a tightrope like other performers in Las Vegas. Let’s hope they can bounce back from their sins. Jackie Young had a sweet 16 points, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum added 15 apiece.

They’re going to need all hands on deck the next time they deal with the Big Apple.

Add a cup overflowing with $30,000 for each New York Liberty player to the bright lights of the big city.

It’s all to play for now.

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