NBL Finals Leveled, Down To Decider

Last second heroics save the Perth Wildcats in game two of the NBL finals.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

The Perth Wildcats put on a desperate performance to win game two of the NBL Finals and tie the series at two games apiece, forcing a deciding third game after winning 87-86.

Perth lost game one in New Zealand, but the Cats got their chance to face the Breakers in Perth and co-captain Shawn Redhage wasn’t about to see the team’s championship hopes destroyed on their home court.

It came down to one final play: down one, Breakers ball for the win. Veteran NBL champion CJ Bruton was given the ball and he used a pick to keep the ball outside of the three point arc but force a mismatch with Cats center Matt Knight now guarding him. Bruton used a hesitation and blew by the much bigger Knight, but he put his head down on the drive and as he approached the basket to attempt a floater, Redhage flew across from the weak side to block the shot. The Cats gathered the loose ball and time expired a second later.

The Cats were able to take the lead with 53 seconds remaining in the game, just the fourth time they had led in the game, when Breakers center Gary Wilkinson accidently knocked the ball into his defensive basket while attempt to rebound the ball.

Both teams turned the ball over before Bruton had his chance at a game winner.

Down by 13 at the half, the Cats received a balanced attack with a host of guys all scoring in double digits. Jesse Wagstaff and league leading scorer Kevin Lisch had 15 each, while Matt Knight (15), youngster Gregg Hire (13) and Redhage (12) were all vital.

Bruton and his old legs were big for the Breakers. He had 20 points while Wilkinson, in his first game of the Finals, dominated the interior by totaling 28 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.