Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has declared the team’s four-game winning streak in the face of significant travel difficulties has shown their championship qualities after an 86-78 win over Brisbane tonight.
The victory came despite Perth playing in Cairns on Thursday night and playing in Melbourne last weekend. The Wildcats also thrashed ladder leaders Sydney to start the winning streak.
Gleeson said the character and skill shown by the players was a clear sign of what they are capable of.
“It’s been an outstanding nine days for us,” Gleeson said.
“It’s the mindset and what’s in front of us. The schedule comes out and it is what it is.
“We know we’re going to have a tough period at some stage. You try to get through healthy and keep growing as a team. I thought we kept growing as a team this last two weeks and finding different ways (to win).
“To build towards a championship team, you’ve got to keep improving and I think we’re taking steps towards that.”
Bryce Cotton again starred with 23 points. The NBL MVP’s effort lifted his tally to 100 points across the four games and to more than 2000 points for the club.
Terrico White was crucial again with 19 points and seven rebounds, Nick Kay scored 18 points and also had seven rebounds while Clint Steindl (14) and Jesse Wagstaff (10) played key roles.
Perth broke clear multiple times but Brisbane consistently found a way to reduce the deficit. They couldn’t match the Wildcats’ when it mattered though.
Nathan Sobey top scored for the Bullets with 15 points and Lamar Patterson finished with 14.
Perth’s win guaranteed they could celebrate captain Damian Martin’s 300th game for the club in style. Martin ran onto the court with his daughters before the match, didn’t score but won eight rebounds and received a huge ovation from the crowd when he left the game in the dying seconds.
Gleeson said the six-time NBL Best Defensive Player remained the game’s pre-eminent defender.
“Without question,” Gleeson said.
“Damo has to fight over every screen. He’s getting screened by big guys (with) bigger bodies than him. He gets hit nearly every time and he doesn’t complain. He gets on to the next part and doesn’t let the opposition get an easy point.
“He fights anything to get that. He changes angles on shooters and he’s still the best defender in the league.”
The win lifted Perth to 12-5 and gave them a clear break over Melbourne (8-7) in third place. They face off at RAC Arena next Saturday night and United are likely to be without former Wildcat Casey Prather after he injured his hamstring during today’s loss to Sydney.
Frustrated Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis lamented his team’s inability to hit key shots when the game was up for grabs.
The loss left his team 6-9 and under massive pressure. But he felt there was a clear light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve been doing a nice job over the last couple of weeks. We’re starting to find ourselves a little bit more,” Lemanis said.
“It’s important now that the weight of our record doesn’t get to us. There’s lots of good stuff going on and there needs to be belief in the group.
“We see it every single year that the league is so close. All you need is to get on a little bit of a run.
“That was out ninth game on the road. We’ve only got five road games left. We’ve only played six home games.”