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by Henry L. Liao
I am a woman hear me roar.
The best-of-five semifinal playoffs of the 2021 Women’s National Basketball Association season got off today with contrasting results for the league’s top two teams – No. 1 Connecticut Sun (26-6) and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces (24-8).
The top-seed Sun, which automatically advanced to the semifinals past a pair of single-knockout rounds due to its league-best regular record, was beaten by the visiting sixth-seeded Chicago Sky (16-16), 101-95, in double overtime.
The upset-conscious Sky whipped No. 7 seed Dallas Wings (14-18), 81-74, and third-seeded Minnesota Lynx (22-10), 89-76, to advance to the penultimate round.
Courtney Vandersloot, a 5-8, 32-year-old playmaker, registered a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists for the second T-D in WNBA playoff history. The American-Hungarian’s 18 assists is a new WNBA postseason mark.
Candace Parker had 22 points, six assists and five boards for the winners.
Connecticut, which concluded the regulars with 14 consecutive victories, got 26 points, 11 reebies, four assists and a pair of blocks from the league’s MVP Jonquel Jones, a 6-6, 27-year-old Bahamian with a Bosnian-Herzegovina citizenship.
In Las Vegas, the Bill Laimbeer-coached Aces downed the fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury (19-13) in their semifinal series opener. The Aces also advanced automatically to the semifinals while the Mercury made it following 83-82 and 85-80 victories over the eighth-seeded New York Liberty (12-20) and No. 4-seeded and 2020 titlist Seattle Storm in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
For Seattle’s 5-9 playmaker Sue Bird, it could well have been her farewell WNBA game. Bird, the only player ever to win the WNBA title in three different decades (2004-10-18-20), will turn 41 on October 16. The Israeli-American got engaged to women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe last October 20.
Bird and Mercury center Diana Taurasi won a record-setting fifth consecutive gold medal during the Tokyo Olympics (starting in the 2094 Athens Games).
0nly eight of the 13 member teams qualified for the NBA playoffs. Falling by the wayside were No. 9 Washington Mystics (13-20), No. 10 Los Angeles Sparks (12-20), No. 11 Atlanta Dream (8-24) and No. 12 Indiana Fever (6-26).
Game 2 of both semifinal series will be held on Friday, October 1 Manila time with Connecticut and Las Vegas playing hosts. The two series shift to Chicago and Phoenix, respectively, in Game 3 on Monday, October 4 Manila time.
The WNBA Finals will unwrap on October 11 MT.