The Adelaide 36′s have defeated the Perth Wildcats 69-65 in the first game at Perth Arena. The visitors spoiled the party for the home team, the historic occasion proving too much for the Wildcats.
In what was an otherwise successful night for the Wildcats organisation, the team couldn’t follow through, with Western Australia product Daniel Johnson starring for the visitors.
Johnson, who hit 21 points and took 15 rebounds, was the dominant player on the court and proved the difference between the teams.
His crucial two in the last minute iced the win for Adelaide.
Perth came out sluggish despite the big occasion and Adelaide built an early lead, but the Wildcats fought back in the second quarter to keep the game close.
Brad Robbins had been consistent all night, but Shaun Redhage and Damien Martin stepped up with more presence on court to help the Wildcats to a 32-31 lead at half time.
Perth came out after the break with purpose and threatened to pull away form the 36′s. The home team couldn’t seem to sink a shot, however, with the vocal home crowd riding every rim-out.
Some crucial errors in the last quarter cost the game for the Wildcats, while Adelaide seemed to hit everything they shot they attempted.
Jesse Wagstaff worked hard for 14 points, Matt Knight also chipping in with 13 but it was not enough to counter Johnson.
The crowd of 11,021 was the biggest ever for a Wildcats game, the atmosphere on the impressive new stadium electric.
The Wildcats, now 3-3 after starting the season 3-0, will need to re-group for the next game at Perth Arena against reigning champions the New Zealand Breakers.
They will need to get used to their new surroundings quickly and turn their home court into a fortress to make a run for the championship.
If the fans keep backing the Wildcats as they did tonight, it will go a long way to getting them there.
Adelaide 36ers 69 (Johnson 21, Cadee 12, Petrie 12)
Perth Wildcats 65 (Wagstaff 14, Knight 13, Lisch 12)