Brondello coaches Taylor and Phillips to WNBA crown
14 September 2014
BASKETBALL: Four-time Olympian Sandy Brondello claimed a slice of basketball history, becoming the first Australian coach to win a WNBA championship after guiding the Phoenix Mercury to a 3-0 series sweep over the Chicago Sky.
Brondello, a former Australian guard and three-time Olympic medallist, was also last month named the WNBA coach of the year after guiding the Mercury to an incredible 29-5 regular-season haul in her first year as coach.
It was a personal triumph for Brondello from Mackay in north Queensland, who was sacked by San Antonio Silver Stars in 2010 after her first season as a coach in the WNBA.
But the Mercury triumph was also a broader win for Australia, with teammates Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips on the roster at Phoenix under Brondello.
Taylor guided home the final two free-throws to seal an 87-82 win, and deliver the Mercury their third title after championship wins in 2007 and 2009.
Taylor and Phillips will be key members of the Australian team at the 2014 World Championships in Turkey, which starts on 27 September.
In game three of the WNBA finals, Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree scored 24 points each and DeWanna Bonner added 12 points for the Mercury. Star centre Brittney Griner sat out the match following surgery to correct a retina after she was hit in the right eye in Game 2.
Elena Delle Donne scored 23 points, Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and Allie Quigley had 19 for the Sky.
Taurasi hit a tie-breaking short jumper and was fouled with 14.3sec left and made the ensuing free throw to put Phoenix up 85-82. Delle Donne missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, and the Sky then fouled Taylor, who made both free throws with 9.3 seconds left.
Taylor was below her best from the field, with two scores from six attempts, but she was on target at the free-throw line.