Sat, Mar 12, 2:07pm by Kevin Pitstock
Current Ladder Positions:
Perth – 2nd (15-10), Gold Coast – 6th (11-13)
Perth’s Last Five Games:
Round 21 – defeated Cairns (83-60)
Round 19 – defeated Adelaide (82-62)
Round 19 – lost to New Zealand (82-79)
Round 18 – lost to Wollongong (105-73)
Round 18 – defeated Sydney (98-84)
Gold Coast’s Last Five Games:
Round 22 – lost to Wollongong (80-68)
Round 20 – defeated New Zealand (94-91)
Round 19 – lost to New Zealand (123-115)
Round 18 – defeated Adelaide (95-79)
Round 17 – defeated Perth (78-75)
Head-To-Head Encounters in 2011:
Round 12 – Perth defeated Gold Coast (96-93)
Round 17 – Gold Coast defeated Perth (78-75)
In just his second season with the Wildcats, Kevin Lisch is continuing to make a serious impact in the NBL. After dominating last season’s grand final, where he scored a game-high 29 points including five of nine from beyond the arc, the 24-year-old has endured a fantastic 201/11 season, increasing his average points per game from 12.5 to 13. With captain Shawn Redhage still on the sidelines due to a hip injury, Lisch’s ability to score becomes vital.
Point guard Adam Gibson has run the Blaze’s offense almost exclusively in 2010/11. The 24-year-old has been one his teams focal point when looking to score, averaging 12.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. With star teammates Mark Worthington and Adam Petrie on the sidelines, Gibson’s presence on the court will be even more crucial as the Blaze fight for a playoffs spot.
Perth’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Damian Martin
SG – Kevin Lisch
SF – Cameron Tovey
PF – Jesse Wagstaff
C – Matthew Knight
Gold Coast’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Adam Gibson
SG – James Harvey
SF – Chris Goulding
PF – Stephen Hoare
C – Ira Clark
Gold Coast’s finals hopes took a massive blow on Friday night when it lost to Wollongong by 12 points at home. The loss means the Blaze now sit two games behind the Hawks, who currently occupy the fourth and final playoffs spot.
The Wildcats’ finals preparation seems to be back on track. They suffered consecutive losses to Wollongong and New Zealand in rounds 18 and 19, however wins against Adelaide and Cairns in the past three rounds would’ve boosted their confidence significantly.
The big concern over Perth is its ability to perform without Redhage. For so long the skipper has been the team’s predominant scorer, but his injury may have allowed some different players, like Matthew Knight and Jesse Wagstaff to show they can easily fill the hole.
Knight’s performance against Cairns last week was to die for. The big man dropped 21 point at an efficiency of 70 per cent, while also grabbing seven rebounds off the glass. Some experts believe Knight is currently the best centre in the league.
Despite where these two teams currently sit on the ladder, there has been nothing between them in the two matches they have played against each other this year. The Wildcats produced a three-point win in round 12, but then the Blaze turned it around with a three-point win of their own in round 17.
Perth simply can’t afford to underestimate Gold Coast. If it does, we could see an upset.
But it’s difficult to see the Wildcats dropping this one. Their form on defence and off the glass has been outstanding of late and should have too much class, meaning the Blaze’s finals hopes will be dashed.
Perth by 1-10 ($2.60 – Sportsbet)
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