Perth Wildcats top Illawarra Hawks, remain unbeaten to start ANBL defence

Jean-Pierre Tokoto had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in the Perth Wildcats victory.
PAUL KANE/GETTY IMAGES

Jean-Pierre Tokoto had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in the Perth Wildcats victory.

In some Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) games there are crucial moments that are game-defining.

In Perth's 74-64 win over Illawarra at the Perth Arena on Friday night, that moment came just before halftime.

When Andrew Ogilvy knocked Wildcats captain Damian Martin to the floor while driving to the basket, all eyes were on the referee. Both men had already attracted two personal fouls.

The call went the Wildcats' way and Ogilvy sat down with three fouls next to his name.

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With the Hawks' big man sidelined, the Wildcats launched a defensive avalanche on Illawarra to claim the win and remain unbeaten to start their title defence.

Having led by nine points just after Ogilvy drew that foul, the Hawks still managed to hold a six-point advantage at halftime.

But they managed only 21 points for the entire second half, including just seven in the third quarter.

Crucially for the reigning premiers they showed they can win without big points from Bryce Cotton.

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Cotton scored a total of 83 points during the grand final sweep of the Hawks, including 45 in game three, but was kept scoreless in the opening half on Friday.

Mitch Norton was relentless against him this time, keeping him to just three for the game.

Cats centre Angus Brandt was the game's highest scorer with 17 points.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was pleased that his side was able to lift in the second half.

"We really stepped it up in the second half and we had to do that," he said. "I didn't think we were playing with the intensity level that we needed to and especially against Illawarra.

"If you're not playing at that level they will cut you to pieces and I thought they were doing that to us.

"And I was really pleased with our defensive intensity in the second half; it was outstanding. "

Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said although they were happy with their first half, they knew what was coming after the break.

"We followed the game plan to a T," he said. "We knew exactly what was going to happen and we can learn from that.

"When you come out and start with five turnovers and bad shots and giving up offensive rebound, you can see the tsunami coming. We have to learn the consistency of more than 20 minutes of play.

"We will challenge our guys on it. You have to look in the mirror.

"We have to execute our offence under immense pressure."

Perth Wildcats 74 (Angus Brandt 17, Jean-Pierre Tokoto 14, Lucas Walker 10) Illawarra Hawks 64 (Rotnei Clarke 16, Demetrius Conger 16, Tim Coenraad 11) at Perth Arena

 - AAP

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