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  • Writer's pictureChris Pike

Wildcats fall short in Tasmania

The Tasmania JackJumpers just wouldn’t be denied in their last home game of the regular season on Sunday ending up going on a late 22-4 run to come from behind and beat the Perth Wildcats 102-94.

Both teams are locked in the battle over an NBL finals spot setting up a tantalising match up at MyState Bank Arena, and it turned out to be a high-scoring affair.

That appeared to suit the up-tempo Wildcats more than the traditionally slower paced and defensively minded JackJumpers, and the 'Cats were in control leading by nine early in the fourth quarter.

Perth was still on top eight after two Luke Travers free-throws with seven minutes to go knowing a win would go a long way to locking in a playoff berth.

However, the JackJumpers went on a stunning run to score 22 of the game's next 26 points, to go on a 13-2 and 22-4 run to seal the eventual eight-point win in style in their last home game of the season.

It's a crucial result for both teams too with Tasmania now 15-12 and back up into fourth spot while Perth is 14-12 in sixth with two home games against the top two teams to finish.

Perth got a good performance from their six main rotation players in the continued absence of Tai Webster with a hamstring injury, but again didn't go too much deeper than late even though vice-captain Mitch Norton played 13 minutes.

TaShawn Thomas top-scored with 19 points to go with four assists and three steals. Bryce Cotton added 17 points and three assists, Corey Webster 17 points and four assists, Brady Manek 13 points and five rebounds, Luke Travers 12 points, eight boards and four assists, and Jesse Wagstaff 10 points.

Wildcats coach John Rillie felt ultimately conceding 32 points and six three-pointers to Tasmania in the opening quarter didn’t set the right tone that he was after in such an important fixture.

"Overall our performance and our effort was high level," Rillie said.

"That felt like a really good playoff type game and that's what was on the line tonight. But the way we probably started that first quarter was not the tone we wanted to start the game with.

"They made six threes and we did a good job of fighting back and creating good momentum with the way we played, but right now in the moment I would say just the way we started the game was disappointing."

The Wildcats finish off with two home games in the last round against the league's top two teams, the Cairns Taipans on Friday and Sydney Kings on Sunday.

By the time they host the Kings on Sunday in the last game of the regular season, they will know exactly the equation in terms of what they need to make playoffs or indeed if it's still possible depending on Friday's result.

IMAGE: Getty Images


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