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Wildcats thrash 36ers in open-air clash

Chris Pike

The Perth Wildcats produced the best opening half of any team this NBL season with the roof open at RAC Arena for the first ever time on the way to a thumping 112-97 win against the Adelaide 36ers.

RAC Arena was sold out to greet the roof opening for the first ever time for an NBL game in the building and the crowd of 13,087 were treated to quite the show by the Wildcats especially in the first half.

The 'Cats scored 67 points up to half-time in the best first half performance of any team this season and that saw them hit 9/13 as a team from three-point land including five of those from Brady Manek on his way to 18 points.

Bryce Cotton shook off an injury scare coming into the game to still have 16 opening half points and on the back of that, the Wildcats were never in danger throughout the second half to deliver an emphatic 15-point victory.

While the 15-point win is impressive, giving up a 32-point lead did cost the Wildcats a chance to push the percentage advantage over the playoff rivals, with Antonius Cleveland scoring the last nine points of the game for Adelaide.

The result strengthens the Wildcats hold on a playoff spot too improving to 12-10 with six games to go.

The Wildcats claimed the Cattalini Cup for NBL23 as well named in honour of Martin Cattalini while Manek was the Rogers Medal winner, presented by Paul Rogers. He finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while hitting 6/9 from beyond the arc.

Cotton added 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals with Corey Webster contributing 17 points and five assists, TaShawn Thomas 17 points and six rebounds, and Tai Webster 10 points and seven assists.

Wildcats coach John Rillie couldn’t be happier with the way his team's offence is coming together at the right time of the season.

"We played some nice basketball there in the first half. The defence was solid, we really just shared the ball and played with great pace on offence," Rillie said.

"Everyone got to share in it and it was beautiful to watch there. I just think there's a comfortability playing to each other's strengths now within the offence while giving them some freedom.

"We've seen that over the last month how that's just gradual building and Tai brings another dynamic to that with the pace that he plays the game at."

The Wildcats remain at home to host the Sydney Kings on Friday night.

IMAGE: Getty Images


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