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Perth Wildcats v Adelaide 36ers Game Preview

Perth Wildcats v Adelaide 36ers When: 9.30pm (AEDT), Saturday 5 November Where: Perth Arena Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sport NZ He’s back When Perth and Adelaide meet, fans don’t need extra reasons to be get excited, it’s the NBL’s longest running rivalry and regardless of ladder position they produce intense and physical battles. But thanks to the superhuman efforts of Damian Martin, this Saturday’s clash at The Jungle has some extra spice. Less than two weeks after fracturing his jaw against Melbourne – and playing out the game – the NBL’s greatest defensive force is back, and coach Trevor Gleeson is pretty happy about it. “Damian’s toughness is why the crowd loves him, and this is another example of that. He goes in there amongst bigger and stronger players. He’s the heart and the soul of the Wildcats,” Gleeson said. The reason his return against Adelaide is so anticipated is not him going against bigger and stronger players though, it’s the chance to take on the league’s smallest and quickest star – Jerome Randle. “His ability create shots for himself and others is who he is and what we’ve got to get, so when he’s doing that we’re very hard to stop,” Adelaide coach Joey Wright said after Randle torched Brisbane for 34 points at 64 per cent. Stopping Jerome It was a mixed bag for Randle last season in his three games against Perth, having more turnovers than assists, and shooting a combined 14-of-39 from the field in his first and last meetings. In Round 9 at Perth Arena he proved a handful for the Wildcats defence, however, racking up 18 points at 55 per cent in just 25 minutes before being rested with the game beyond reach. He’ll be in attack mode again on Saturday, but with Martin scheduled for limited minutes Gleeson may look to the New Zealand Breakers for another way to slow the league’s leading scorer. The Kiwis used the length of Tom Abercrombie to disrupt Randle’s rhythm last week, the pint-sized scorer becoming frustrated and sucked into a one-on-one battle as the Breakers routed Adelaide. With the defensive menace that is Casey Prather ready for a call-up, this could be another intriguing test for Randle. Of course, the best way for Adelaide to free their point guard from defensive attention is to get out and running where he is almost impossible to stop. A time to run In New Zealand, the 36ers simply didn’t come with the energy required to make that happen, the Breakers claiming a massive 80 per cent of the boards at their defensive end, running the 36ers off their feet and forcing them to take the ball out of the net time and time again. “We were flat, we came out flat, we didn’t stick to our assignments on defence and that’s what really hurt us,” centre Eric Jacobsen said. “Any team that beats you on the boards is going to be hard to win against, especially if they're getting second chance shots.” Perth also got out-run in Wollongong as the Hawks snapped their losing streak, but coach Gleeson wasn’t too concerned about the nature of the game. “We like that style,” he said. “We’ve got some athletes that we want to take advantage of and play to their strengths. That’s something we’ve been working on, getting out running a little bit more and we’ll continue to do that.” However, after spending last season as the NBL’s half-court experts Perth had their struggles in the faster pace, especially without Martin, beaten in points off turnovers, second chance points and giving up 33 free throws to just 16 of their own. “The endeavour was there without a question but we weren’t real smart tonight, we gave up 19 offensive boards which is typically not us,” Gleeson said. “We had some soft turnovers and silly fouls.” Skywalkers While Martin v Randle is the headline attraction, with both teams wanting to own the open floor the battle of athletes is also certain to be spectacular. While Prather and Jaron Johnson were expected to be a highlight reel pair this season, for Adelaide fans Nathan Sobey has been an early Christmas present. Not only has he provided above the rim action, he’s been a genuine all-court star, averaging 15.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, almost a steal per game and shooting 53 per cent from both the field and three-point line. He is the biggest reason Adelaide are just a game behind the second-placed Wildcats with captain Mitch Creek on the sidelines, and coach Wright is confident Sobey’s form isn’t a flash in the pan. “He’s comfortable right now and he’s playing good, we should be able to parlay that into a season for him,” Wright said. “The things he can do on the basketball court are transferable – he can shoot the three, finish with his left, finish with his right, he’s athletic and he typically brings a lot of effort on defence, so he’s a really good defender for us as well.” Of course, this game has lots of great match-ups – the athletic Jameel McKay v the unorthodox Daniel Johnson, the brute strength of Matt Knight and Jacobsen meeting in the paint, Prather v Sobey, Martin v Randle, while even the battle of young sharpshooters Dexter Kernich-Drew and Terrance Ferguson could be important off the bench. Wright’s not too concerned about those, however, he just wants a much-improved performance from his team’s ‘no show’ in Auckland. “We’re definitely going to bounce back, we don’t have an option, we’re 3-3 now, we’ve shown our ability to bounce back and play better games,” he said. “We are a young side and sometimes you can get a bit comfortable, and I thought … maybe we were a bit comfortable.” [ooyala code="hjYTM2NzE6fMPqrtA7zy_zg_WBizpfMl" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1920" height="1080" auto="true"]
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