Australia Wildcats end Melbourne United's NBL run
Wildcats-Kings set for fresh NBL rivalry
The Wildcats and Kings will take winning form into Tuesday night's grand final rematch in Melbourne, but the teams are vastly different from last season.The Wildcats were leading the best-of-five grand final series 2-1 last season when the Kings decided to pull out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So much for going through the NBL season undefeated.
Title favourites Melbourne United's unbeaten run has come to a surprise halt after Bryce Cotton inspired Perth Wildcats' 89-85 NBL Cup win at John Cain Arena.
In a stunning turnaround, two-time defending champions Perth bounced back from a last round 25-point loss to be the first team to defeat United, snapping the star studded outfit's six-game winning streak.
Reigning NBL MVP Cotton defied an off night to step up as the match-winner, finishing with 29 points - including 22 in the second half - along with seven assists despite 6-of-20 shooting from the field.
Cotton inspires Wildcats to win over Kings
Bryce Cotton shook off an illness to score 30 points as the Perth Wildcats defeated Sydney in a much-anticipated grand-final rematch.The three-time NBL champion recovered from illness to help the defending champions take the honours in Tuesday's grand-final rematch at John Cain Arena.
United's Boomers star Jock Landale had made the bold pre-season prediction that Melbourne could go through 2021 without suffering a loss, and they certainly looked the part by cruising to a 6-0 start.
Even with Melbourne still without Boomers star Chris Goulding (calf) and Kiwi international Shea Ili (ankle), Perth looked unlikely to halt the United juggernaut after suffering three losses in their last four games.
The poor run was capped by a last round shocker against South East Melbourne Phoenix - their heaviest defeat in three years.
But Cotton combined with Jesse Wagstaff (14 points) and John Mooney (13 points, nine rebounds) to ensure United lost their NBL Cup opener.
Landale - who had 20 points and 10 rebounds - put his hand up to face the music and attend the post-match press conference.
Kings reign over Adelaide in NBL Cup
Sydney Kings have overcome the loss of injured import Jarell Martin to overpower Adelaide 36ers 94-77 in Sunday's NBL Cup clash in Melbourne.In their first game without injured marquee man Jarell Martin, the Kings displayed their impressive depth by overpowering Adelaide 36ers 94-77 in the NBL Cup at Melbourne's John Cain Arena on Sunday.
"I am happy to wear that on my chin," he said of his undefeated claim.
"Me saying that, I did genuinely believe that with the group that we have we could go undefeated.
"We lost tonight but our mentality is the same. Every game we want to win - if you don't have that mindset you are not a winner."
United's plight wasn't helped with Mitch McCarron limping off in the final minute with an "aggressive cramp".
Import Scotty Hopson (10 points from 5-of-16 shooting) had a chance to win the game for Melbourne but missed two three-point attempts at the death.
Perth coach Trevor Gleeson notched career win No.250 but Perth's 3-3 start is their slowest in his eight seasons at the Wildcats helm.
"The grit we showed out there, we came out focused," Gleeson said.
The inaugural NBL Cup tipped off on Saturday, with all nine clubs set to feature in a total of 36 games over three weeks in the Melbourne hub.
Games played in the NBL Cup also count toward the regular season.
WA's border with Victoria to remain closed for another week .
Western Australia's border will remain closed to Victoria for another seven days. Premier Mark McGowan confirmed the news after more cases were reported in connection to the Melbourne Holiday Inn Hotel cluster.WA recorded another day of zero new local coronavirus cases and there is one new case in a returned overseas traveller currently in hotel quarantine.READ MORE: Victorians turned around at Adelaide AirportREAD MORE: The latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak © Getty WA Premier Mark McGowan is keeping the border to Victoria closed.