Cotton fires; leads Wildcats to first Blitz win

IF Saturday night’s performance is anything to go by, then Bryce Cotton and the Perth Wildcats look primed to bounce back in the 2022/23 season of the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Wildcats delivered a dominant showing to kick off their Blitz preseason campaign, claiming a convincing 18-point win over the Cairns Taipans, as they look to improve on a disappointing finish to last season.

Perth’s exceptional streak of making the finals came to a grinding halt last season, and it was forced to watch from the sidelines when the postseason commences. With some coaching and personnel changes over the offseason an indicator that the Wildcats were not exactly ready to let their period of sustained success dissolve, there was a lot of anticipation around how the side would look in its first preseason outing, and they did not disappoint.

Cotton was at the forefront, producing a magnificent offensive performance and once again reminding the rest of the league that he is still at the top. The veteran guard had a whopping 36 points, and was far and away the best player on the court. 12 of his 21 field goal attempts were good, and he nailed seven shots from behind the arc.

Despite multiple matchup rotations, the Taipans still could not contain his offensive impact, with Cotton’s ability to create his own shot off the dribble proving too much. Despite it being just a preseason game, there was no shortage of aggressiveness from the three-time NBL Most Valuable player, who looks poised for another big year.

NBA draftee Luke Travers had 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals as he looks set to take his game to another level, while Oliver Hayes-Brown and Kyle Zunic produced nine points apiece.

Despite Cotton’s excellent play, the Taipans did a good job to keep themselves in the game for most of the contest, only fading away in the last. Keanu Pinder looked as dangerous as ever with 21 points on 8/9 shooting. Also catching the eye were Bul Kuol (14 points, six rebounds), Tahjere McCall (12 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Jonah Antonio (11 points, five boards).

The game was only over when the Wildcats broke away in the final term, with a few huge three-pointers seeing Perth put the win in the book.

The second Saturday outing saw the Tasmania JackJumpers claim a tense five-point win over the SEM Phoenix. The result was set up by a terrific showing from Tassie’s new imports, with both Rashard Kelly (20 points, five rebounds) and Milton Doyle (13 points, four assists) both showing out in their new jerseys.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments