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R7 Preview: Perth v Cairns

Who: Perth Wildcats v Cairns Taipans When: 7pm (AEDT), Sunday 22 November Where: Perth Arena Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Cairns 80 (Weigh 16, Wilbekin 16) d Perth 68 (Beal 21, Knight 18), Semi-Finals 2014/15, Perth Arena THE MATCH-UP Jermaine Beal v Cam Gliddon – Bunbury boy Gliddon led the defensive shutdown of Chris Goulding last week, and his efforts against Beal could be pivotal. So will his ability to steer Cairns’ precise ball movement and continue his resurgence from the three-point line. THE STATS Since 2009/10, Perth average just 1.7 home losses in seasons they make the grand final, compared to four home defeats per season when they don’t. So far this season they are 3-1 at Perth Arena. Cairns are 6-4 against the Wildcats since the beginning of 2013/14. The rest of the NBL are just 20-44 against Perth in that time. THE STORY It’s eight years since Cam Tragardh last squared off with Nate Jawai, in a QBL clash between Rockhampton and Cairns, and the man known as Trigger had a field day against the young Jawai. “I won’t talk any trash though, I was a few years older and wiser, he was pretty young and fresh,” Tragardh laughed. “He was big then but he’s a lot bigger and he knows how to use every ounce of his size now.” The Queensland duo reunite at Perth Arena on Sunday, and for Tragardh the Wildcats’ frontline of Jawai, Matt Knight, Tom Jervis, Jesse Wagstaff and Shawn Redhage presents the biggest challenge of his 13-season NBL career. “Man, they are big and they just keep coming at you. I’ve never seen anything this big. They were big without Nate and now they’re just absolutely huge,” he said. “Greg Hire’s a big physical three as well, Prather’s a big guard and that’s how they’re winning games, off their rebounding and physicality they’ve been grinding it out.” Cairns have had their fair share of success against Perth in recent years though, including a semi-final sweep last season, with coach Aaron Fearne finding a successful recipe for spreading out the Wildcats’ vaunted defence. “That’s the only way you can play them. If you let them attack you in bunches and you don’t space the floor … you’re in big trouble, they’re going to come and get you,” Tragardh said. The 32-year-old said the Taipans must “try and move their bigs around and attack them in transition”, with the resurgent Markel Starks and the ever-dependable Cam Gliddon keys to picking Perth apart. “Gliddon’s been great and went to another level until Markel found his feet in the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Markel’s been great, he’s found the pace of the league and what he can and can’t do, and now he’s our star.” THE WRAP Perth’s frontline has created problems for most opponents this year - pulling in 83 more boards in 11 games - but the Taipans have quality size in all three frontcourt positions and an excellent rebounding guard in Gliddon to help them keep the Wildcats’ off the o-boards. If Cairns can get both ball and bodies in motion in their half-court offence it will open up driving lanes for Starks, Shaun Bruce and Torrey Craig, but if the Taipans don’t convert from long range when the defence collapses the Wildcats will control the glass, control the tempo and execute their way to another big-man inspired victory.
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