The Perth Wildcats have come from behind to defeat Melbourne United in a thriller, clinching a 31st consecutive NBL Finals berth in the process.
It was a win-or-bust scenario for the visitors, and the reigning champs stood up in a big way.
The win also means the Wildcats sweep Melbourne four games to zip in their season-series.
Casey Prather was outstanding, back up a 29-point game on Friday with 26 plus a career-high 11 rebounds.
Matt Knight returned to form, hitting double-double numbers early in the third quarter and finished with 15 points and 10 boards.
Jameel McKay was tremendous in the second half and also reach double-double figures with 14 and 10.
The game certainly didn’t start out the way the Wildcats hoped, giving up 29 points in the first quarter and trailing at the half.
Melbourne weren’t shy about taking shots from long-range with their Finals hopes already dashed.
Damian Martin was in foul trouble early in the third quarter but Jarrod Kenny stepped up, hitting two big triples.
The rebounding dramatically improved in the second half and with it the Wildcats took over the lead – albeit by just four.
Jesse Wagstaff came to the party in the fourth – his two threes pivotal I nthe Wildcats hanging on for a two-point victory.
“We had to dig deep to get back in the game after the first quarter,” said coach Trevor Gleeson.
“Casey was aggressive getting to the basket, Jameel was hug one the glass to give us energy points, he made some big buckets. Bryce is dangerous whenever he has the ball in his hands.
“We’re starting to read each other a little bit better than we were early in the year.”
The Wildcats now face the Cairns Taipans in a best-of-three semi-finals series.
Game One is on Friday at the Cairns Convention Centre.
Melbourne United 94 (Josh Boone 27, Casper Ware 27)