Wildcats humbled by Phoenix
The Perth Wildcats up and down season has continued, suffering a 25 point loss to the South East Melbourne Phoenix at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday.
The win was the Phoenix's biggest in their short NBL history, an incredible 56 point turnaround from the result just three days earlier that saw Perth salute by a big margin of their own.
With fans unable to attend the match due to Victoria's five-day lockdown, the Phoenix made a shaky start with Bryce Cotton and Todd Blanchfield combining to score the opening nine points of the match.
But Keifer Sykes delivered 12 first-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting to keep his side afloat and the Phoenix dominated the middle stages of the match, outscoring Perth 51-28 through the second and third quarters to take control of the contest.
Import Keifer Sykes led all scorers with 24 points and added seven assists while Mitch Creek (18 points) and Reuben Te Rangi (16 points, eight rebounds) played their part in the win.
Perth entered the second quarter with a 24-22 advantage but a three-pointer from Kendall Stephens handed the Phoenix their first lead of the game and Cam Gliddon added back-to-back triples as momentum swung to the home side.
Coach Trevor Gleeson felt the match slipped away from the Wildcats during the second quarter as his side failed to build on their recent competitive performances.
"I thought we were a second slow defensively, we were horrendous," Gleeson said.
"Everything that we worked on in preparation didn't come into the game, that's more upstairs than anything."
South East Melbourne led 49-38 thanks to 61 per cent shooting accuracy in the first half and their offence kept firing in the third quarter with Te Rangi and Sykes connecting from long distance.
The home side looked unstoppable when Creek muscled his way to the basket to hand the Phoenix a 62-45 advantage and a 24-14 third-quarter charge left the visitors stunned.
Holding a 73-52 lead heading into the final quarter, the Phoenix refused to take their foot off the pedal as they finished off the Wildcats by 25 points.
John Mooney led Perth with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Cotton managed 15 points and nine assists despite some tough defence from Sykes.
Should the fixtures remain as scheduled, Perth will meet Melbourne United as part of the opening day of the NBL Cup next Saturday.
IMAGE: SEM Phoenix YouTube.