PREVIEW | Semi-final 2 – Perth Wildcats vs. Tasmania JackJumpers

THE second semi-final in the 2023/24 National Basketball League (NBL) season kick off tonight, with the Perth Wildcats and Tasmania JackJumpers set to lock horns in a best-of-three series.

The Wildcats and JackJumpers entered the postseason as the second and third ranked sides respectively, and the latter had no issues making it through the play-in, setting up a tantalising match-up with plenty of star power on both teams.

With game one set to take place in Perth on Friday night, the finals action rolls on after Melbourne United conjured a remarkable comeback victory over the Illawarra Hawks, and fans will be hoping the level of entertainment continues in the second semi-final matchup.

Perth Wildcats (2nd) vs. Tasmania JackJumpers (3rd)

Game One – Friday, March 8 @9:30pm, RAC Arena
Game Two – Monday, March 11 @7:30pm, MyState Bank Arena
Game Three (if needed) – Wednesday, March 13 @9:30pm, RAC Arena


Following a shaky start to the season, the Wildcats found their feet in the back half of the fixture, proving the form side of the competition in the final 10 rounds and locking in second spot with a week to spare. Perth avoided the play-in and will be well-rested coming into game one, but Melbourne showed last night that the extended time off can prove an issue, so the Wildcats will want to get going early. RAC Arena will be a big help for Perth in games one and three (if needed), and will play a crucial role in getting the team over the line. With some big names on their list – including the MVP – Perth seems well-placed for a crack at the title.

The JackJumpers seem to have hit their stride at the right time of the season, winning four on the trot to close out the regular season and locking in third spot. They had no issues making it past the Hawks in the play-in, and will have benefited from nine days between games. Tasmania has plenty of match-winning pieces on its list, and several players are hitting new heights at the pointy end of the season. Game one will be an intriguing test to see where the team is at, but RAC Arena is a long way from Tasmania, so the team may struggle at the venue as it has in the past. Either way, the JackJumpers have the tools to book a spot in the big dance.


These two teams last clashed in Round 20, the final week of the regular season. In that matchup at MyState Bank Arena, the JackJumpers produced a strong win over the Wildcats with an 86-72 victory to seal third place on the ladder. Although that may look less than ideal for Perth, 2023/24 NBL MVP Bryce Cotton was not playing, which has a huge impact on the Wildcats, so it is hard to read too much into this game. The last time they faced off with Cotton on the floor was back in Round 11, where the Wildcats snagged a one-point win, adding to the excitement of the semi-final matchup.


Players do not come more important than Cotton in the NBL, as demonstrated by his Most Valuable Player award at the Gazeys last month. The best player in the league will obviously have a big say in how his side fares in the postseason, and he will be well-rested after missing the final game of the home and away season. With the capability to win games off his own hand and an unmatched scoring ability (23 points per game in the 2023/24 season), Cotton could be the difference in the series. There is no doubt the JackJumpers will have spent hours looking at film trying to find ways to put him off his game, but the great ones always find a way.

In the back half of the season, Tasmania’s X-Factor has been big man Will Magnay. He has taken not only his own game, but the team’s output to the next level with his impact off the bench. Magnay has been showing why he once made it to the NBA and appears likely to end up there again if he keeps performing at this level on both ends of the floor. His strong form culminated in a career-best performance against the Hawks in the play-in, where he poured in 25 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Perth will be looking to contain Magnay as he has shown a match-winning ability very recently.


Perth Wildcats 2-1.

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