• Adelaide have won six of their last eight games after beating the Wildcats for the first time this season
• The 36ers remain in fifth position on the ladder but have now beaten every other team
• Perth have now lost eight of their last 10 games and have now lost to every other team
• The Wildcats led 17-9 midway through the first quarter but missed their next 12 field goal attempts and trailed from that point
• Adelaide won the rebound count 50-34 – the first time Perth had been outrebounded by double figures this season
• Demitrius Conger led the 36ers in scoring with 18 points
• Terrico White led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 points – his second highest score this season
• Rhys Vague had his first career start for the Wildcats on his 23rd birthday and celebrated with a new career high 10 points
The full range of weaponry possessed by the Adelaide 36ers was on show to open Round 14 on Thursday night with a crucial 97-84 victory over the struggling Perth Wildcats at Titanium Security Arena.
As the race to the playoffs heats up, every game is taking on extra significance with Adelaide’s 13-point win improving them to an 11-10 record to strengthen their hopes of breaking into the top four.
But it was another dagger for a Wildcats team still trying to secure their place in a 33rd consecutive finals series.
After starting the season winning 10 of their first 11 games, the ‘Cats have now lost seven of their past eight games and eight of the last 10 to be just clinging to a spot in the top four at 12-9.
It was an impressive showing from the Sixers who shot well going 37/72 at 51 per cent from the field while outrebounding Perth 50 to 34.
It was the array of contributed the 36ers had that was most impressive with 10 players all scoring four or more points with Demitrius Conger leading the way with 18.
Daniel Johnson added 17 (seven rebounds, four assists) with Jacob Wiley contributing 13, Nathan Sobey 11 (seven rebounds, seven assists), Harry Froling eight (eight boards) and Jack McVeigh a career-best eight (seven rebounds).
Adelaide coach Joey Wright was pleased with the performance of his team, but knows what matters now is backing it up.
“The reality is that all of us have had a bunch of blips this year and it’s been fairly inconsistent. We just have to take it a game at a time and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and take this as what it is,” Wright said.
“I thought we did a decent job on the boards and it’s something we want to continue to do. They’re a great rebounding team too and I thought our bigs did a great job of rebounding. Jack McVeigh did a fantastic job of coming in there too.”
Terrico White top-scored for Perth with 24 points with Angus Brandt adding 11, Bryce Cotton 10 and Rhys Vague 10 in his first career start.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was frustrated in his team’s inability to rebound but to also find different avenues on offence rather than relying on the jump shots.
“Rebounding was the No. 1 weakness really with them having nine offensive rebounds in the first half and 19 for the game. That’s giving Adelaide too many easy points and that’s a recipe for failure right there. We didn’t box out and we didn’t rebound,” Gleeson said.
“We’ll try to generate our offence elsewhere but with the turnovers we don’t get to generate offence. Our defence then is not being intense enough. We need the kick aheads on the fast break because we’re putting too much pressure on our shots and they’re not going in.”
It was a far cry from the increased intensity Perth coach Trevor Gleeson pleaded for last Friday as his team could now be in danger of missing the playoffs.
Perth was in the backseat from the outset after missing 13 straight shots in the opening quarter. Despite passages where they clawed within reach, they never regained the lead and looked lost offensively.
Vague was an early antidote for Gleeson’s men as his small-ball group jumped out to a 17-9 first quarter lead.
Little did they know that would be their last lead as Wright checked his Froling-led bench into the action and they went on a 14-0 run.
Tempers flared as Anthony Drmic floored Greg Hire with an errant elbow. The 36ers crashed the glass, clocking a 20-12 rebound advantage to quarter-time.
Behind a 29 per cent field goal percentage, Perth had shot themselves into a 23-19 deficit after one.
It was a one-two punch from Wiley and Sobey whose barrage of open court dunks gave Adelaide nine points in 54 seconds, and an 11-point lead in the second quarter.
Gleeson was forced into his third timeout of the contest at the 6:24 minute mark, pleading for some answers.
Vague was filling up the stats sheet, whilst Damian Martin was at his wily defensive best. Cotton nailed a dagger three on the buzzer to trim the Adelaide lead to just 49-47 at half-time.
Conger and Wiley exploded to open the third quarter. The two combined for 11 points as the home side went on yet another 11-2 scoring run.
Gleeson was putting out spot fires everywhere and called his fourth timeout. His men just couldn’t score with an unflattering run of 1/8 from the field.
Adelaide took advantage of the visitors missed shots and 12 turnovers, boasting a comfortable 72-61 lead at three quarter-time.
Both teams back up again in Round 14 with the 36ers travelling to Sydney to play the league-leading Sydney Kings on Saturday while Perth is back home on Sunday to play the fresh defending champion Melbourne United.
NBL ROUND 14
ADELAIDE 36ERS 97 (Conger 18, Johnson 17, Wiley 13)
PERTH WILDCATS 84 (White 24, Brandt 11, Cotton 10, Vague 10)