DrinkWise Game Preview: Round 6 - Perth Wildcats v Melbourne United
The Wildcats hit the road on Sunday ahead of Monday’s clash with the ladder-leading United at John Cain Arena, desperate to improve a 0-3 away record this season.
“All I’m concentrating on right now in Melbourne United,” Wildcats head coach John Rillie said after his side’s 99-88 win over the 36ers.
“We need to get a road win so we can move forward.”
Rillie opted for a new-look starting five against the 36ers with Hyrum Harris coming in for import Jordan Usher.
The New Zealander made the most of his chance, finishing with nine points – including the match-sealing three – and six rebounds to earn the praise of his coach.
“Ever since he’s joined our team, we knew what he could bring to our team,” Rillie said.
“I think as he’s become more comfortable with how he fits in with this - we’re asking him to do a lot because we believe in what he can add to this team. Last week he showed it. Tonight he definitely showed it again. It’s just that enthusiasm and selflessness to play.
“When you start Keanu (Pinder), (Kristian) Doolittle and Hyrum, you’ve got three guys who can go and pursue the rebounds. Numbers certainly help us there.”
Three-time NBL MVP Bryce Cotton returned to form on Saturday night in a welcome sign for the Wildcats.
Cotton hit a season-high 29 points, including six three-pointers, to bounce back in a big way ahead of a crucial road game against Melbourne.
“It feels good, I won’t lie, to have my first game coming out like this. I don’t know who that other guy was wearing my jersey for seven games. It feels good to be back,” Cotton said after the Adelaide game.
“I’ve always been a rhythm player. No matter if I’m in a slump at the moment, I know all it takes is one shot or given these circumstances, all it takes is one game to find the rhythm. Tonight I definitely felt that.
“Credit to my teammates. They did a great job of looking for me and setting good screens so I could get open. It was a great team effort. Luckily I was able to capitalise on it.”
Who: Perth Wildcats vs Melbourne United
When: 4.30pm WST Monday 6 November
Where: John Cain Arena
Watch: Live on ESPN via Kayo or Foxtel
Melbourne have emerged as a serious title contender after a red-hot start to the season, dropping just one game in their first nine.
They have three more wins than any other team in NBL24 in a sign of their dominance.
Veteran Chris Goulding is in excellent form, while Next Star Ariel Hukporti’s impact has also been important.
LAST TIME THEY MET
United prevailed 88-81 last time the two sides met, at RAC Arena less than a month ago.
Big man Keanu Pinder starred for the Wildcats that night, scoring a game-high 25 points to go with seven rebounds.
Jordan Usher contributed 20 and Corey Webster had 12 off the bench.