Wildcats battle to test rebounding 36ers
Arch-rival Perth Wildcats are the next challenge at the NBL Blitz on the Gold Coast on Tuesday night and expect a big rebound from the Adelaide 36ers.
After an opening 101-76 defeat to New Zealand Breakers on Sunday afternoon, the 36ers face a Wildcats side who will be looking to make it two wins from as many matches.
The Wildcats have retooled their roster significantly in the off-season and Adelaide will look to bounce back.
Point guard Jason Cadee said the Wildcats battle will be all about how his side responds from the defeat to New Zealand.
“It’s a new game, a new challenge and we will be looking to get better as the week goes on,” Cadee said.
Wildcats superstar import Bryce Cotton has shown he’s back to his MVP best after a game-high 31 points, including 22 in the opening half, in Perth’s 102-95 win against Cairns Taipans on Sunday.
The three-time NBL MVP has shown this pre-season he hasn’t slowed down, and actually might have improved, scoring 40 points in G-League Ignite just last week in Las Vegas.
Cotton has been a thorn in the 36ers’ game plan for many seasons now and look for Sunday Dech and Mitch McCarron to get the assignment to try and limit the scoring guard.
Boom off-season recruit Keanu Pinder is also back fighting fit after struggling with a back injury.
The versatile big man had eight points and eight rebounds in the win against Cairns and is slowly building back to his MVP best form.
Jacob Wiley looms as the perfect match-up for Pinder and the 201cm import forward has all the tools to go pound-for-pound with Pinder, at both ends of the floor.
Perth changed their import search during the NBL24 off-season by signing defensive swingman Jordan Usher.
Usher, who scored 19 points against the Taipans, has been brought in to be the defensive stopper, and he has already said he wants to win the NBL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, which is named after former Wildcat championship-winner Damian Martin.
“I told coach Rillie I want to guard the highest volume shooter in the other team. I want the best offensive output guy,” Usher told The West Australian.
“The fans can get mad at me after the game if he has his 20. I make people drop their averages. If you come here shooting 20, you’re going to score 10. I have no fear in saying that, this is what I do.
“If there’s one thing I do it’s defend.”
Expect to see Usher up the floor in the backcourt playing defence on NBL Next Star Trentyn Flowers from the opening tip-off on Tuesday night, but he can also spend time on Jamaal Franklin and even Wiley.
PG: T. Webster / Zunic / Russo-Nance
SG: Cotton / C Webster / Henshall
SF: Usher / M Harris/ Wagstaff
PF: Pinder / Okwera / H Harris
C: Sarr / Andrew
THE FINAL WORD
The Wildcats have talent right across the board, Tai and Corey Webster can be matchwinners, NBL Next Star sensation Alex Sarr has shown he’s ready to make the next level.
Adelaide will have to look after the ball a lot better in this game and limit the turnovers, which will increase the defensive intensity.
Isaac Humphries will look to build on his impressive 22-point, seven-rebound performance against the Breakers and will trouble Pinder and Sarr inside the paint.
Michael Harris showed his shooting skills against the Taipans, seven final quarter points almost sealed the deal for Perth, and he can score in a hurry.
Adelaide needs to rebound after the opening defeat to the Breakers and there’s no better test than playing the arch-rival Wildcats.