Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has conceded his team is at “crossroads” after last night’s 81-79 loss to Cairns and he needs to shake up the group to get them back on track.
The Wildcats entered last night’s game expecting an emotional response after Gleeson declared he would back the squad to find form instead of making roster changes and signing a third import.
But playing at home for the first time since December 14, Perth started poorly, lacked energy and shot terribly. The last placed Taipans raced to a 14-point lead during the first half and it took the Wildcats until late in the match to seriously challenge for victory.
It was Perth’s seventh loss from the last nine games since the FIBA break and a frustrated Gleeson said the season was slipping away.
“It’s a crossroads for us right now. It really is,” Gleeson said.
“I love our group but we’re not playing as hard and as ferocious and as intently as we should, until we’re looking down the barrel and it’s ‘let’s play now.’
“We don’t have that drive from the start, which is a concern. The chemistry is good. The guys like each other. There’s no breakdown of the group, but now we’re really tested and we’re going to find out what we’re made of in these last eight games.”
The Wildcats turned a 10-point final quarter deficit into a three-point game inside the last minute.
But the remainder of the match typified the game with a series of missed opportunities.
The game followed the same recent pattern with Bryce Cotton (20 points), Nick Kay (18) and Terrico White (17) providing the majority of the scoring.
The under fire bench managed only 14 points – well below their season average of 25. Clint Steindl scored six points while Tom Jervis and Mitch Norton finished with four each.
“It’s an issue,” Gleeson said.
“The bench haven’t been getting productive. We’ve got to get Jesse shooting the ball. He can’t play 15 minutes and not shoot the ball at all. Clint was our bright spark off the bench. He gave us a couple of threes.”
Melo Trimble starred for Cairns with 32 points and seven rebounds. He was supported by Nate Jawai (14), DJ Newbil (13) and Devon Hall (11) as the club won its third game for the season.
The loss left the Wildcats in third place with a 12-8 record and facing a tough run home. They face Adelaide three times, Melbourne and Sydney twice each plus one game against Illawarra.
Gleeson said he had to find a way to ignite the team.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for me,” Gleeson said.
“I’ll push buttons and I don’t know where I’ll land on it but I’ll push buttons.”