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Wildcats come from 26 down to defeat 36ers

The Perth Wildcats have ended the NBL Cup with an outrageous come-from-behind 98-87 win over the Adelaide 36ers.

Perth trailed by as much as 26 points, and 21 at the half, before going on a 19-0 run to start the third and put themselves right back in the contest.

“I’ve been in the league for 17 years, I’ve never seen or been a part of that big of a turn around. It was night and day,” said coach Trevor Gleeson.

“How we played in that third quarter, I think we held them scoreless for the first five minutes, went on a 19-0 run. It was just a remarkable turnaround.”

Bryce Cotton, who put in one of the all-time great performances with a season-high 34 points, seven assists and three steals, said he always believed a comeback was possible.

“It was always realistic because we had a whole second half to play. It’s just a game of runs, and with a big lead like Adelaide had, we weren’t going to get it back in one or two plays, we knew it would be a slow grind,” he said.

“But we had to get going right out the gate going into the second half.”

Today’s game was the 31st time in history the Wildcats trailed by 20 or more at halftime, but only the second time they’d turned it into a win.

It’s the equal biggest second-half comeback in the 40-minute era.

“It was all about defence, we were behind the eight ball and not doing what we were supposed to do (in the first half),” said Gleeson

“Our defence picked up at the start of the third, and then we got points from our defence and got on a roll and then BC said, ‘Don’t sub me out!’”

Perth had no steals to halftime but ended the game with five.

John Mooney had another outstanding statline, finishing with 16 points and 17 rebounds – his second 15-point, 15-rebound game of the year.

Todd Blanchfield had 20 points in his third 20-plus point game of the season.

While the Wildcats had already secured the NBL Cup prior to the game, the result means they came away with seven wins from the eight Cup games in Melbourne.

They return to Perth on Monday ahead of a long-awaited home game at RAC Arena on Friday.

Perth Wildcats 98 (Cotton 34, Blanchfield 20, Mooney 17)

Adelaide 36ers 88 (Paul 25, Giddey 14, Johnson 14)

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