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2015/16 NBL Grand Finals Info

The National Basketball League’s 2015/16 Grand Final Series begins this Wednesday night between the Perth Wildcats and the New Zealand Breakers. The best-of-three game series will continue on Friday night and if required, Sunday afternoon to determine the NBL’s 38th Championship team. In a massively successful debut season under the stewardship of executive director Larry Kestelman, the two most successful teams of recent history is a fitting way to complete the first season under the rebrand. The Perth Wildcats finished their season equal top of the ladder and secured a playoff berth for an amazing 30th straight season since they first qualified back in 1987. By defeating the Illawarra Hawks 2-1 in the semi-finals, they earned their 12th trip to the Grand Final where they have already won a League-record six Championships. The Wildcats led the League in attendances and can expect a full house of over 13,000 fans when they host Game One at Perth Arena on Wednesday night. Perth have a collective ten Championship rings in their playing group gathered from their successful 2010 and 2014 Grand Finals victories, and are led by captain Damian Martin, whose defensive work against the Hawks was instrumental in their semi-final win. The Wildcats’ imports Jermaine Beal and Casey Prather are both high volume scorers with indigenous centre Nathan Jawai a massive presence in his first NBL Championship series. Their starting five is rounded out by rebounding machine Matty Knight who adds experience and toughness. The New Zealand Breakers finished fourth on the ladder this year but disposed of the first-placed finishers Melbourne United 2-0 to qualify for their fifth Grand Final in the past six seasons - where they have already won four titles without ever suffering defeat. Collectively, the Breakers players have an unprecedented 23 Championship victories under their belts and coach Dean Vickerman is undefeated as a Finals coach with six victories from six starts over the past two seasons. New Zealand have already broken the current League records for consecutive playoff series wins (nine) and consecutive playoff wins (11) and could be the second club in NBL history – behind the Wildcats - to win five Championships. Last season, import point guard Cedric Jackson became the first player in NBL history to win three Championships in his first three seasons and he has the opportunity to continue that astonishing achievement. He has also been named as the Larry Sengstock medalist for Grand Final MVP in consecutive seasons, which no player has ever done before. The Breakers starting five brings 19 Championship rings between them, with captain Mika Vukona attempting to be the third player in NBL history to win six rings – along with former team mate CJ Bruton and David Stiff. Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger have all been mainstays with the Breakers since their break through win in 2011. One key element to this series is the home court advantage that the Perth Wildcats have earned by placing higher on the ladder. By hosting Game One and a possible Game Three if required, Perth do have a very handy ace up their sleeve, keeping in mind that New Zealand have not been able to win in the west at all this season and must win at least once to add to their trophy cabinet. All four games played this season were won by the home team. Also in the Wildcats’ favour, is the fact that no team has won the Championship from 4th position (as the Breakers are trying to do) since the Wollongong Hawks in 2001. Since the NBL switched to 40-minute games in 2010, Perth and New Zealand have shared every Championship that will be extended to seven straight after this Grand Final. 2010 – Perth Wildcats def Wollongong Hawks 2-1 2011 – New Zealand Breakers def Cairns Taipans 2-1 2012 – New Zealand Breakers def Perth Wildcats 2-1 2013 – New Zealand Breakers def Perth Wildcats 2-0 2014 – Perth Wildcats def Adelaide 36ers 2-1 2015 – New Zealand Breakers def Cairns Taipans 2-0 2016 NBL GRAND FINAL SERIES SCHEDULE GAME 1: Perth Wildcats v New Zealand Breakers (Perth Arena) Fox Sports 503 – 9:30pm AEDT TICKETS GAME 2: New Zealand Breakers v Perth Wildcats (North Shore Events Centre) Fox Sports 503 and GEM – 5:30pm AEDT TICKETS GAME 3: Perth Wildcats v New Zealand Breakers (Perth Arena) Fox Sports 502 – 5:30pm AEDT
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