Hungry Jack's NBL
Wildcats want to dampen Bullets party
Trevor Gleeson and Damian Martin spent plenty of time with Brisbane Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis in recent months with the Olympic team and achieved great success in recent years with former teammates Jermaine Beal and Tom Jervis who are now at the Bullets. But the Perth Wildcats want nothing more than to spoil the Bullets NBL return. The Brisbane Bullets make their return to the NBL this Thursday night to tip-off the 2016/17 season and there could be no more fitting opponent than the Perth Wildcats who they have previously battled in two Grand Final Series. Both Wildcats coach Gleeson and captain Martin were involved at the Rio Olympic Games as an assistant coach and player respectively where Lemanis was head coach of the Boomers. Having had plenty of battles with Lemanis in his successful tenure with the New Zealand Breakers, resuming hostilities shouldn’t take too much adjusting. However, getting used to battling against centre Jervis and shooting guard Beal might take some adjustment after they were part of the Wildcats championships of 2014 and 2016 before signing with the Bullets for this season. Despite those fond memories, Martin and the Wildcats head to Brisbane wanting nothing but a victory to spoil the Bullets return to the NBL. "All the players around the league are excited that Brisbane are back. It's been a long time and my rookie season I believe was their last so to have them back is fantastic. Hopefully they do well but we are obviously heading over there to try and get a win," Martin said. "In particular going against Jermaine, who I have guarded for the last three seasons every day at practice, and seeing him in a different coloured jersey is going to be interesting. But he's a competitor and I'm sure he and Tommy will be out to prove a point. "I'm excited to get over there and get after Jermaine at every opportunity, but he is a great player as is Tommy. With the team they have put together with a great coach, it's going to be an outstanding game to welcome Brisbane back to the competition." Gleeson too has nothing but respect for Jervis and Beal having coached them the past three seasons. And as for Lemanis, while he enjoyed working with him for the Boomers, there's plenty of old battles particularly when he was coach of the Townsville Crocodiles that he has to reflect back on. "We had a great three years with Jermaine and Tommy, but they've moved on and we wish them all the best. Hopefully they play well for 24 games but not against us," Gleeson said. "We had some good battles when he was in New Zealand over the time so we are getting reacquainted. We probably know each other's stuff a fair bit but it doesn’t really matter what the coaches know, it's what the players know and do on the court." Gleeson knows that there will be a lot of emotion as Brisbane welcomes back the Bullets to the NBL on Thursday but he can't wait to get the 'Cats championship defence underway. "There's going to be a lot of emotion there with the Bullets coming back to the NBL. We expect a hostile environment and they've got a great history between Brisbane and Perth. We hope to add to that on Thursday night," Gleeson said. "It's come along pretty quick. I know the guys are a little bit toey and you can tell that by practice. They just want to stop listening to the coaches and get out and play, and do the real stuff. It's an exciting time and hopefully we start the season well." Since leading the Wildcats to his third championship last season and winning the Grand Final MVP, it has been a remarkable time for Martin getting to represent Australia at the Olympics and becoming a father for the first time. "It's been the best few months of my life to be honest. It was a dream come true to play for Australia in an Olympic Games and then to back it up and go from a sporting goal of mine to the greatest single moment of my life to be there for the birth of my child," Martin said. "The last few months have been a whirlwind but the best of my life and I'm just excited now to have gone through all of that so I can turn my attention to the upcoming season." One arrival at the Wildcats is excitement machine Jameel McKay. Nicknamed 'Showtime' he isn’t afraid of showcase what he's capable of but he doesn’t want to get too carried away just yet. "Right now I just have to make sure I control my energy and make sure it's great energy in terms of not trying to play too hard and not putting too much pressure on myself. I want to go out there and just have fun," McKay said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself and I might be my biggest critic, but the biggest thing for me is to go out there level-headed knowing I might make some mistakes. Being perfect isn't possible so I will try to work towards work towards what I train for every day."