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Cotton leads Cats to victory over Sixers

Reigning league MVP Bryce Cotton stepped up when it mattered to lead the Wildcats to victory over the Sixers in the NBL.

Cotton leads Cats to victory over Sixers

Reigning league MVP Bryce Cotton stepped up when it mattered to lead the Wildcats to victory over the Sixers in the NBL.

BRYCE COTTON of the Wildcats controls the ball during the NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the Perth Wildcats at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
BRYCE COTTON of the Wildcats controls the ball during the NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the Perth Wildcats at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia. Picture:Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

The Perth Wildcats survived a massive second-half scare to kickstart their NBL campaign with a 99-91 season-opening victory over the Adelaide 36ers on Thursday.

After a chequered first half, the Sixers appeared to have the momentum when it mattered before reigning league MVP Bryce Cotton (22 points), well held for the first three terms, rattled off 14 fourth-quarter points including eight unanswered in the space of a minute.


Fellow import Terrico White impressed with 20 points in an athletic NBL debut while off-season recruit Nick Kay had 18 points and eight rebounds at Adelaide's Titanium Security Arena.

New captain Daniel Johnson (23 points, 10 boards) single-handedly kept the 36ers alive early while Nathan Sobey (20), who starred last weekend against the Utah Jazz, sparked the second-half fightback.

Scores were tied at 23-apiece at the end of a keenly-fought opening term which comprised seven lead changes before Perth began to dictate, picking holes in Adelaide's defence and drawing clear 48-41 at halftime.

Johnson scored 12 of Adelaide's 18 second-quarter points but he clearly needed help, which duly arrived through Sobey.

The Boomers guard chalked up 12 in the third to help turn a 64-49 deficit into a 73-72 lead with four seconds left in the period before Perth again recaptured the lead with Kay's coast-to-coast dunk in the dying stages.

The Sixers jumped ahead by four points through import Adris Deleon, who had his moments as the team's new sixth man, but the hosts ran out of puff and were ultimately undone by Cotton's brilliance in the clutch.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson was pleased with the way his side staved off the Sixers' second-half charge.

"We knew they would fight back," he said.

"Adelaide are a pretty tough combination and they weren't going to just roll over and lose by 25.

"We had to match their intensity."

Sixers coach Joey Wright was critical of his side's slow start.

"I don't think we should have got ourselves into that position," he said.

"We didn't come out and play at our pace and with that passion."

AAP


AAP




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