DrinkWise game preview - Round 8: Perth Wildcats v Cairns Taipans
The WA product made a name for himself at the Taipans over the last few seasons, which included back-to-back NBL Most Improved Player awards and being among the favourites to take out last year’s MVP award before a facial fracture derailed his campaign.
There will be a familiar face among the Taipans’ camp as well with coach Adam Forde a former Wildcats assistant.
Wildcats coach John Rillie expects a great contest between Pinder, who is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds for his new team, and Forde’s Taipans.
“You’re always looking forward to playing against your old team,” Rillie said.
“Adam Forde showed a lot of faith in him. He was rewarded with that in his play over the last couple of years. I’m sure those two guys will want to have a great contest against each other.
“We were fortunate enough to play them at the (NBL Pre-Season) Blitz. To get those first-time emotions that are attached with that, I think he got that out. We’re playing for keeps this time around so I’m sure there will be hopefully a positive nervous energy about him going into this game.”
Rillie admits there may be some nerves for Pinder but has discussed with him ways to control his emotions after tip-off.
“I talked to him about his consistent effort and the things that he can do to control that emotion,” he said.
“Sometimes guys try to go outside of what they are. The way that he plays and the energy he plays with, he can just accumulate his value in the game - rebounding, the passing he’s been doing of late is phenomenal. He can get himself involved in the game a lot of ways without just being measured by points.”
Who: Perth Wildcats vs Cairns Taipans
When: 6.30pm WST Thursday 16 November
Where: RAC Arena
Watch: Live on ESPN via Kayo or Foxtel
Tickets: Via Ticketek
Like the Wildcats (5-5), the Taipans (4-4) have an even win-loss ratio ahead of what’s shaping up to be a crucial clash.
Cairns ended a two-game losing run last Saturday night with an 81-71 victory over the struggling Illawarra at home.
Last time they met
Cairns knocked the Wildcats out of the finals race last season with a 13-point victory during the play-in tournament.
The two teams also met in the pre-season with Perth taking the honours in the midst of an unbeaten campaign.