Bring on New Year’s Day.
An explosive re-match of last week’s double overtime game between Perth Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets boiled over during the third quarter and set the stage for the teams’ third encounter of the season in just two weeks.
Perth won the match 83-70 as Bryce Cotton and Jesse Wagstaff starred, but a dramatic third quarter stole the show.
Fresh off a weekend where scuffles broke out in both Victoria and New South Wales derbies, the match included 11 offensive fouls and three technical fouls as tensions mounted.
Perth’s Vic Law and Brisbane’s Deng Deng came face to face, Law dipped his head forward and Deng threw himself to ground with a delayed reaction.
Both players received technical fouls, the crowd booed Deng for the rest of the night and NBL expert Corey Williams lashed him for acting.
“That Oscar I am going to personally deliver to Deng Deng,” Williams said.
Wildcats coach Scott Morrison said the tension showed how much was at stake.
“I’m fairly new to this deal but it feels like every game is going to be like that,” Morrison said.
“Every game is so important. Everyone is familiar with each other. A lot of these guys have been battling for years. Everyone is very competitive. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t.
“The second thing is there are two teams who have been sitting here for the better part of two weeks thinking about the other team, practising for them and just counting down the hours until they can play. So it’s not surprising that both teams were out there to try and win.
“The big thing was to re-focus, get in a huddle, make sure we were locked in and not get emotional. I think the review process helped us there because we were a little bit loose on that. The review was so long we were able to re-group and get a break.”
Perth suffered a major blow when Todd Blanchfield injured the same knee he had surgery on during the pre-season and finished the night on crutches. Brisbane’s Nathan Sobey missed part of the game with a chest injury but returned and is expected to suit up on Sunday.
Cotton scored a game-high 29 points, Wagstaff had 19 and Luke Travers finished with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Brisbane’s Robert Franks dominated the first half and scored 28 points for the night.
The Wildcats will now prepare to host Tasmania JackJumpers on Sunday afternoon