Perth Wildcats blow Cairns Taipans away in ANBL semifinal series opener
The Perth Wildcats are just one game from the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) grand final after opening their semi-final series against the Cairns Taipans with a 91-69 win at the Cairns Convention Centre.
The defending premiers flipped the script against their hosts and will return home with a chance to sweep the series in game 2 on Monday night.
Chief architects of the Taipans demise were the Wildcats duo of Bryce Cotton and Casey Prather.
Cotton tallied 21 points in the first half, which combined with Prather's 13 meant the two were responsible for 70 per cent of their teams total halftime score.
And Cotton wasn't done there; the playmaker had a field day against the usually tight defence of Cairns and finished with 34 points.
Off the back of that Perth rolled onto a 20-point lead early in the third quarter before the shocked home side could finally respond.
An 11 point run from the Taipans gave their sold out crowd hope, point guard Travis Trice attacked the paint to score 15 points, while retiring forward Mark Worthington tried his best to will his side to the win with 11 points.
But foul trouble for star centre Nate Jawai, backup centre Nnanna Egwu and dynamic wingman Tony Mitchell early in the final quarter would rob the Taipans of their intimidation factor.
With those three gone the Wildcats cruised to their eventual 22 point win and will return to the west confident they can sweep the series in Game 2 on Monday night.
"We didn't come up with any solutions on the floor," Cairns captain Cam Gliddon said of the 22-point loss.
"Once they got that good start, we couldn't keep up - it's not good enough for a playoff game."
Perth Coach Trevor Gleeson knows the wounded Taipans won't die wondering.
"We know we'll face a different team next week at home so we will be ready for them," Gleeson said.
"They'll be breathing fire - this is just halftime."
Perth Wildcats 91 (Bryce Cotton 34, Casey Prather 22, Matt Knight 14) Cairns Taipans 69 (Travis Trice 15, Mark Worthington 11, Nnanna Egwu 9) at Cairns Convention Centre. (Perth Wildcats lead 1-0)