It so often seemed as though one more blow would bring the house of cards down.
The Canberra Capitals had been dealt rough hand after rough hand. Kristy Wallace's season was over before it began. Mikaela Ruef's citizenship papers didn't clear immigration.
Kelsey Griffin's body seemed as though it was breaking down just as Keely Froling's face did.
But they live to fight another day. The Capitals are going back to the WNBL grand final with their sights set on claiming consecutive championships.
Canberra booked their ticket to the decider in a thrilling 77-64 win over the Melbourne Boomers in the deciding semi-final in front of 2201 at the AIS Arena on Wednesday night.
It was the big three who led them - Marianna Tolo had a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds. Then there was Griffin with 19 and nine. And of course, the league's most valuable player Kia Nurse with 18 points.
The resounding sentiment washing over coach Paul Goriss was simply relief.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS
"It was always going to be a relief to get there. Kelsey always talks about it too, you never take these things for granted," Goriss said.
"That's something that has stuck with us along the line. We've cherished every game we get to play with this group of classy players that leave it all out on the court.
"They represent not only themselves but our club with great pride and great class. That showed out there. It's super exciting to get back to another one."
Awaiting them are the Southside Flyers boosted by the return of Jenna O'Hea, who will host games one and three (if necessary) of the series at Dandenong Stadium on March 1 and 8.
Wedged in between will be game two at the AIS Arena on Wednesday, March 4, with Capitals officials banking on a packed house to mirror last summer's grand final.
The Capitals looked a shadow of the side that dropped game two of the series just three days prior.
On that night it seemed as though the playbook had been thrown out the window because, you know, we've still got game three.
But this time they had it all to play for. Lose this one, and Suzy Batkovic Medal winner Nurse was on a plane home to Canada, perhaps never to be seen in a Capitals uniform again.
Gone would be French point guard Olivia Epoupa, her trademark steals and the nine assists which brought the Canberra crowd to life. Into contract negotiations Canberra would go with its entire roster.
But that can all wait, if only for another week.
"In game two we were probably a bit lackadaisical, we came in confident after winning game one, and we didn't really have that fire in the belly to finish it off at their home," Tolo said.
"They were full of confidence. In this game we really wanted to assert ourselves from the start and you could see we did.
"That was unbelievable. It was really nerve-wracking of course, the game was on the line in a do-or-die situation. We knew everyone was going to be fired up for that."
Public enemy No. 1 Sophie Cunningham did what she could but every possession brought a chorus of boos. The Boomers struggled after Stella Beck was carried off the court in the second quarter with an ankle injury, leaving Boomers coach Guy Molloy to concede "some things aren't meant to be".
Well, at least not for some.
AT A GLANCE
WNBL semi-final game three: CANBERRA CAPITALS 77 (Marianna Tolo 20, Kelsey Griffin 19, Kia Nurse 18) bt MELBOURNE BOOMERS 64 (Sophie Cunningham 14, Lindsay Allen 9, Cayla George 8) at AIS Arena. Crowd: 2201.
WNBL GRAND FINAL FIXTURE
Sunday March 1: Game one - Southside Flyers v Canberra Capitals at Dandenong Stadium, 5pm.
Wednesday, March 4: Game two - Canberra Capitals v Southside Flyers at AIS Arena, 7.30pm.
Sunday, March 8: Game three - Southside Flyers v Canberra Capitals at Dandenong Stadium, 1pm.