The Roar
The Roar


Wildcats throw out bait, but Sixers primed for challenge

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
8th March, 2018

Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has accused the Adelaide 36ers of ‘over-emphasising’ contact to get foul calls ahead of Game 2 of their semi-final battle but Sixers guard Shannon Shorter is looking forward to the challenge of closing the series in Perth.

The 36ers couldn’t have possibly had a more emphatic performance in Game 1 in Adelaide on Saturday beating the Wildcats 109-74 to now need just one more victory to book a place in the grand final against Melbourne United.

All the Sixers’ great strengths were on show in that performance on Saturday night with the 35-point victory set up by their high-octane offence predicated on getting to the basket.

They ended up taking 30 foul shots to 18 but their depth was the key with Josh Childress (22 points, nine rebounds), Shorter (18 points, seven assists), Mitch Creek (20 points, 11 boards), Daniel Johnson (16 points, 10 rebounds), Nathan Sobey (15 points) and Ramone Moore (10) all outstanding.

In contrast, only MVP winner Bryce Cotton could hold his head high for the Wildcats finishing the night with 22 points in his club’s second worst ever playoff defeat.

Now it’s back to Perth Arena on Friday night with the Wildcats needing to win to force the decider back in Adelaide on Sunday.

The ‘Cats are looking to stay alive in their quest to win a first ever championship three-peat. Gleeson both wanted to turn up the heat on the officials heading into Game 2 pointing out what he calls Adelaide’s ‘over-emphasising’ of contact while also challenging his players.

Clearly Adelaide’s game style of running the floor, driving the ball hard and getting to the rim with quick and athletic players is why they are so far ahead of the rest of the league in terms of going to the foul line this season.


That’s what their game is based on and why they’ve been so successful but Gleeson couldn’t help but stoke the fire heading into Friday’s Game 2.

“They do a really good job of accentuating the contact. They’re masters at it. They lead the league in foul shooting. I think they’ve had 200 more foul shots than any other team in the league through the regular season,” Gleeson said.

“We’ve got to be careful how we play that. If the refs are calling it, we’ve got to be smarter. We can take a leaf out of their book and start over-emphasising the contact as well.”

More than anything, Gleeson wants to see that his team has the desire to still compete for the championship.

“That’s what we train for every day, is to win a championship,” Gleeson said.

“It’s all about rings and relationships in professional sports especially for basketball. That desire has got to come from within. If it’s not there, it’s time to hang up the boots.”

Adelaide was at its exciting and intimidating best on their home floor on Saturday night and for import point guard Shorter, it’s all about creating their own energy now in Perth with 13,000 screaming fans against them.


Shorter thrives on that atmosphere and after the last visit to Perth saw an all-in melee break out late in the contest and Shorter ejected and then departing through the first bench, this is just the sort of occasion he would be hoping for with a grand final spot on the line.

“I just go through my same routine and this is what I love to do. Obviously fans are going to support who they love to support and I’m probably the most hated in Perth right now after the exit I had last time,” Shorter said.

“But I feed off that and I like that us against them mentality. We are going to be against 13,000 people and the Perth team with us just having our team and coaching staff. We just have to stick together and stay united, and execute our game plan the best we can.

“We haven’t won in Perth this season and the third quarter has really hurt us against them. They have made some really big ones in the third that have put us on our backs so this time we need to come out and just play our game.

“We have to push the pace, execute our offensive and defensive schemes, and just stay mentality sharp throughout the whole game and not have any mental lapses. Now that we are one game away from the grand final, I feel like they know that and I’m sure they’re not ready to go home. It’s just going to be a dog fight.”

While Shorter and the 36ers are understandably feeling good following the huge Game 1 victory on their home floor, he is fully expecting that the Wildcats will make plenty of adjustments.

He is expecting them to try to slow the game down, make it a physical grind and try put the clamps on Adelaide to force Game 3.


“We feel good, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves though. We still have to close out the series and it’s probably going to be one of the toughest games we’ll ever play in as a group. Playing in Perth, that brings more excitement to the opportunity,” Shorter said.

“I feel like we’re confident, but we know what we have to do, and we have to execute on offence and defence. Obviously they are going to watch the film and make their adjustments from last week so it should be a different type of game.

“Truthfully I think they will get back on defence. I think our transition game exposed them a little bit and I think they are going to go into zone a lot to try to make us shoot from the outside. We don’t usually take too many threes because we attack the rim a lot and draw a lot of fouls so obviously they are going to sit in on that.

“Offensively I think they are going to try and get Cotton and Tokoto going a lot more, and Wagstaff as well. They are just going to come out with a sense of aggressiveness from Martin to the last man on the bench, whoever gets in the game will be extremely aggressive. We just have to match that and hopefully it goes our way.”

NBL Semi-final fixtures

Series 1
Game 1: Melbourne United 88 defeated New Zealand Breakers 77, Hisense Arena
Game 2: New Zealand Breakers 86 lost to Melbourne United 88, Spark Arena

Series 2
Game 1: Adelaide 36ers 109 defeated Perth Wildcats 74, Titanium Security Arena
Game 2: Perth Arena – Friday March 9, 9.30pm
Game 3 (if required): Titanium Security Arena – Sunday March 11