WBBL Play-Off Finals
Last week, the Nottingham Wildcats took on the Sevenoaks Suns at the Women's British Basketball League's play-off finals.
After dominating in the first half of the game, a disappointing third quarter for the Wildcats saw the Suns take control and go on to win 70-61. We had the pleasure of meeting Wildcats #7, Jo Ferreira, who took some time to reflect on the game with us.
It must've been amazing to make it to the play-offs and tricky to appreciate that walking away on a loss. There was an amount of pressure to win this title being the third attempt in a play-off final for the Wildcats – was that a positive driving force or ultimately too much pressure?
It is tricky. It was amazing to make it to the play-offs but, mostly, getting the opportunity to play a final is just unique, both on and off the court. Even more so when it’s in the O2 arena.
The pressure was there, of course! Everything's big and new. For both teams that was the case and since it's the kind of game that every player hopes of playing, you need to be prepared. Just like every other game during the season, we were. We worked hard during the week, just like we worked hard the week before against Sheffield [where the Wildcats won 70-64 against the Hatters]. We were focused and thinking positively as we did in every game of the season. I remember talking with the coach the day before and we both said ‘It's just one more, it's just 40 minutes more'.
It's true we had some players that were playing that final for the third or second time, but every game is different. On reflection, I wouldn't call it pressure but responsibility. We were the older, more experienced players, so we kind of had a duty to face the game in a different way. But Sevenoaks wanted that title too. We knew how good they were, their results during the season showed that. Things just didn't turn out as we were expecting I guess, and then we weren't able to change it and change the score.
You only joined the team in January–was it difficult for the team to fully connect in this amount of time?
Everything was actually less difficult! The team were great from the first to the last moment whilst I was there and from the junior players to the coach, teammates and managers, we were a family, which I'm very thankful for.
The biggest difficulty was to change and adapt my game to them, to the level they were already reaching as a team – that would come with time, though we didn’t have much because we were in such a crucial part of the season. I arrived with the same goal as with every team I had played with before: to help the club with hard work and sacrifice.
How have the team processed the loss in the last 48 hours? Was the game misjudged tactically or was it purely down to determination?
Well, I think in general, we were all really disappointed with ourselves. Each player has their own reaction, but we couldn't believe or accept what had just happened. The team went through really hard moments this season, like changing players in January, losing a player in February, injuries, etc. But we fought really hard to get to the final and to where we were this season so, we need to be proud too! Sad, but proud.
It was purely tactical, because the heart was there. I can say from what I felt on and off the court, we really wanted it. Sometimes things just don’t come out as you wish. We weren't able to reach another level in the game and answer back to Sevenoaks’ good momentum in the second half.
It must be difficult to reflect properly on the loss as a team when it inevitably means many of you will be going separate ways due to the end of the season. You’re heading home to Portugal – what’s the best case scenario for you next?
I'm not going to disagree there, it's always difficult to lose! As a team or an individual but even more so when it happens to a club that has so much talent and drive to win. At the end of the season, even as a player from outside the original team that came in to help, I felt like I was from the family. That takes more composure and maturity to handle the loss and move on as professionals and senior players.
Like me, every player feels thankful and proud of what we made together this season. But it is the end of a season and as with everything that comes to an end, we definitely need some rest too, back with our family and friends, recovering physically and mentally to get ready for whatever is next.
Personally, when a season comes to an end I call it a new beginning. This was my second year as a professional player and I want to keep moving forward – as long as my legs and heart let me, I'll continue to work harder and harder at doing what I love the most!