Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has paid tribute to import John Mooney after he produced an extraordinary performance to lift his team to a 113-106 win over Sydney.
Mooney scored 30 points, had 16 rebounds and shot at 92 per cent from the field, including three three-pointers.
The American has been superb since joining the club and Gleeson said he played like a veteran instead of someone who was in college last year.
“He’s fitting in like he’s played for five years with us, not seven games,” Gleeson said.
“He’s doing everything a coach asks for. He’s working hard defensively, he’s stretching the court offensively and he’s just got a great nose for the rebound. He’s got a quick jump, deceptive jump that he gets the ball. He’s been a great asset.”
It was Mooney’s fifth double-double from seven matches and he helped to take the focus off Bryce Cotton.
The dual NBL MVP was so sick before the game that Gleeson rated him only a five per cent chance of playing the previous night. Yet he dragged himself out of his sick bed, spent 36 minutes on court, scored 30 points and had nine assists.
Todd Blanchfield (17) and Mitch Norton (10 points and eight assists) were also key contributors.
Mooney said his shooting had risen to another level thanks to the attention being applied to Cotton.
“When Bryce Cotton gets a stupendous amount of defence on him, it leaves a guy like me open so I think it’s easy when I get open looks,” he said.
Casper Ware was outstanding for Sydney with 34 points while Didi Louzada finished with 19 points after a big first half.
The Kings led by 10 points during the first quarter but conceded 32 points during the third period and fell behind by 15 points. Sydney rallied late, but couldn’t bridge the gap.
“It’s definitely a learning point for us,” Kings coach Adam Forde said.
“We’re stil relatively new coming together and are finding out what our strengths and weaknesses are. That third quarter we are definitely going to take some teaching points.”