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Money on line: Aces, Sky prepare for Commissioner’s Cup Final

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley admits she’s a bit of a homer. She’ll always support her former players, or anyone else who is connected to her through USA Basketball, the WNBA or other women’s basketball circles.

However, she expects her love of good basketball to shine through Tuesday, when she will be one of the color commentators for the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup.

“I like great play,” Staley told reporters during a conference call last week. “I don’t care where it comes from. Production is production. It’s nameless. It’s faceless. But come Tuesday night, when it’s time to talk about who is being the most productive, it will have a name. It will have a face.”

The Aces will play the Chicago Sky at the Wintrust Center in Chicago in the Commissioner’s Cup Final, which tips off at 5:30 p.m.

The Commissioner’s Cup Final is the culmination of a tournament played throughout the first half of the WNBA season. Every team played 10 games against conference opponents which were designated Commissioner’s Cup matchups. The two teams with the best record from each conference — the Aces and the Sky — will now contest a one-game playoff for the Commissioner’s Cup title.

“It would mean a lot to be able to say we are the Commissioner’s Cup champs,” Aces All-Star and former South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson said.

Besides the chance to add a trophy before the playoffs, the players also know there’s money on the line.

Players on the winning team can earn up to $30,000, while those on the losing team will make up to $10,000. The Commissioner Cup Final MVP will earn an additional $5,000.

This season, there was a charity component of the event, too. Each team chose one local, non-profit organization focused on civic engagement to support, and the WNBA donated $2,000 for each Commissioner’s Cup win and $500 for a loss.

The winning team’s organization will receive an additional $10,000 while the losing team’s charity will earn $5,000. The Aces partnered with the ACLU of Nevada, and already have raised $18,500 after going 9-1 during Commissioner’s Cup games.

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to play in that game, play for a bonus, and to have the Commissioner’s Cup trophy,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be a big game.”

The Aces also are motivated to play the Sky again. Chicago is currently the No. 1 seed in the WNBA, and set the record for largest comeback in league history during the most recent meeting as the Sky roared back from a 28-point deficit after the Aces scored 41 points in the first quarter, also a WNBA record.

“We could possibly face them in the playoffs,” Aces All-Star forward Dearica Hamby said. “So to get an extra game against them and see how it rolls out is helpful as well.”

Staff reporter Alex Wright contributed reporting to this story. Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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