The fuse has been lit for a dramatic grand final playoff in Canberra as bad blood threatens to boil over between the Capitals and the resurgent Melbourne Boomers.
The heat is on the WNBL with Sophie Cunningham in the spotlight after the Boomers forced the semi-finals to a decider after beating the Capitals 88-76 at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday.
The series is now split at one-win apiece to set up a tantalising game three between the pair at the AIS Arena on Wednesday night.
All eyes are on the league's incident review panel with Boomers star Cunningham potentially facing a suspension for a strike to the face of Canberra's Keely Froling during game two.
Froling tried to force her way past Cunningham, who refused to move, and the Capital's elbow inadvertently came in contact with the rival player's face.
Cunningham lashed out and struck Froling in the face - just weeks after a collision between the pair broke the Capitals young gun's nose. It had Canberra players up in arms and forced referees to jump in.
The controversial Boomer found herself in strife during that same sequence of play in the regular season, when an unsportsmanlike foul on Canberra's Maddison Rocci left her in danger of being suspended.
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The IRP graded the incident as unduly rough play, intentional, medium impact to the body. But Cunningham escaped the "applicable sanction" of a one-game ban with an early guilty plea, with the charge reduced to a $500 fine.
The latest incident between Cunningham and the Capitals will do little to endear her to Canberra fans as the club turns its attention to packing out the arena on three days' notice.
"Every time we match up with Melbourne, it's a physical game," Canberra star Kia Nurse said.
"It's another game, our season wasn't on the line tonight, this is just another chance for us to go out and play in front of our home crowd and get it done.
"You never know which championship run or which game is going to be your last game. We have some older vets, who knows how many more times we're going to see them in this situation again. Let's get it done for them."
Awaiting the victor of Wednesday's clash are the Southside Flyers, who will host games one and three (if necessary) of the grand final series at Dandenong Stadium on March 1 and 8. Wedged in between will be game two on March 4.
The Capitals return home with one more chance to force their way into the grand final or risk looking back and wondering "what if?"
Canberra coach Paul Goriss is hoping rookie Gemma Potter will be fit after she failed to overcome an ankle injury which left her in a moon boot and on crutches late in the week.
Lindsay Allen added a game-high 25 points for Melbourne, and while one Boomers big in Cayla George was walking on thin ice in foul trouble, another rose to the occasion.
Ezi Magbegor bounced back to put up 17 points, the same tally notched up by Canberra's best in Nurse and Griffin.
"I just don't think we trusted ourselves. That's a big thing, Melbourne had everything to lose and we had everything to gain," Goriss said.
"They were more desperate than we were at times, their shots fell better than ours did. There are just those momentum swings we have to deal with better.
"We allowed the scoreboard pressure to put pressure on us, we went away from our team rules defensively. That's something we did really well in game one that we didn't replicate.
"Our match-ups and how we want to be off the ball, we weren't. We started giving up driving lanes and not contesting shots. That puts pressure on our offence. They were a well-oiled machine."
AT A GLANCE
WNBL semi-final game two: MELBOURNE BOOMERS 88 (Lindsay Allen 25, Maddie Garrick 17, Ezi Magbegor 17) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 76 (Kelsey Griffin 17, Kia Nurse 17, Marianna Tolo 14) at State Basketball Centre. Crowd: 3116.
WNBL SEMI-FINAL FIXTURE
Semi-final series two
Game one: Canberra Capitals 84 bt Melbourne Boomers 70 at AIS Arena.
Game two: Melbourne Boomers 88 bt Canberra Capitals 76 at State Basketball Centre.
Wednesday, February 26: Game three - Canberra Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, 7.30pm.