Wildcats win through to Grand Final
The Perth Wildcats will have the chance to defend their NBL 19title after seeing off a brave Cairns Taipans in the deciding game three at RAC Arena.
The snakes closed to within four points in the last term, but Terrico White came up big down the stretch as the Wildcats won 93-82 in front of more than 10,000 fans.
Cairns started with plenty of energy, Scott Machado with 12 points in the opening quarter as the visitors led by as much as eight points early in the match.
White got rolling early, with two baskets from long range to keep his team in the hunt.
Clint Steindl also started with two long bombs of his own, the second right on the quarter time buzzer to put his team in front.
Cam Oliver had little to no impact in the first half for Cairns, failing to register a point and having a moment to forget as he missed an uncontested dunk.
Perth talisman Bryce Cotton failed to score as well but had his hand in four scores for the home team, Nick Kay picking up the slack to score 14 opening half points.
Mirko Djeric was keeping his team in the hunt with four threes in the space of five minutes, but Kay was starting to cause problems at both ends of the floor for Taipans coach Mike Kelly as the home team led by 8 at the half.
Oliver and DJ Newbill lifted their output as the game went up a gear, Cotton also posting his first points of the match from the corner in the third.
The margin pushed out to as much as 18 points as the Wildcats sensed a quick kill, but Oliver launched a clutch contested three pointer just before the final break to make a game of it.
The 23 year old import would drop 20 points in a stunning second half fightback, while former Wildcats championship player Nate Jawai was a presence under the basket as Cairns closed in late.
It was White who produced the final five points of the game as he pushed the lead beyond ten points with a minute to play, the home fans able to relax as their side closed it out to book a spot with the Sydney Kings Grand Final series.
The Kings won game three of their series against Melbourne in Sydney, meaning they hold home court advantage in the best of five series.
The first match is on Sunday March 8th, tip off at 2PM AWST at Qudos Bank Arena.
PERTH 93 (White 26, Kay 24, Steindl 11)
CAIRNS 82 (Oliver 20, Machado 19, Djerric 12)
IMAGE: NBL website.