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Wildcats fade against Bullets



The Perth Wildcats have suffered their first loss of the NBL Cup, the Brisbane Bullets winning a thriller 95-92 at John Cain Arena on Friday.


The 7000th game in NBL history turned into an engrossing battle as the league's two leading scorers Bryce Cotton and Nathan Sobey went head-to-head at John Cain Arena on Friday night, with the result going down to the wire.


Bryce Cotton finished with 29 points after drilling a three-pointer with eight seconds to play, cutting the Bullets' lead to 93-90 and breathing life into Perth's quest to stay unbeaten in the NBL Cup.


But Sobey kept his cool at the free-throw line to tally a season-high 31 points and secure Brisbane's third win in four games.


"Whenever you play Perth, there are a few keys to it but the rebounding is a big one," Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said after his team won the battle of the boards 42-35 and rose to second spot on the NBL Cup ladder.


The Bullets held the lead for most of the night and withstood Perth's late charge thanks to Sobey's efforts and big plays from imports Vic Law (23 points) and Orlando Johnson (13).


"Bryce is a great player, he commands a lot of attention but I thought our commitment to continuing to make him work for everything over the course of the game was good," Lemanis said after Cotton fought through ankle soreness to score 16 in the fourth quarter.


The Bullets opened with a 15-4 start as Johnson found his shooting touch after a scoreless outing against New Zealand, while Sobey added 11 points with Brisbane ahead 29-22 at the first change.

Brisbane maintained a four-point advantage at halftime with John Mooney, the league's leading rebounder, held to just two boards.


Mooney lifted after halftime and, after Clint Steindl tied the scores, Todd Blanchfield slashed his way to the basket and handed Perth their first lead of the game late in the third quarter.


But the Bullets refused to fold, Sobey firing back to hand his team a 73-68 edge then leading the way in a tense final term.


"I thought the guys played their hearts out, gave the effort and everything that we wanted to do there," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.


"There was a few concentration issues on the glass, some bad rotations for us and silly fouls that sent them to the foul line - it was a combination of those things."


Both teams are back in action on Sunday, with Brisbane facing Melbourne United and the Wildcats up against Illawarra in the second match of the day.


IMAGE: The Journal Daily.

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