NBL 2022: ‘I’m sorry’ – Wildcats’ 35-year NBL play-offs streak ends after loss to Phoenix, Tasmania make it on first try
Australian basketball legend and NBL commentator Andrew Gaze blamed the Wildcats’ defence as the cause of their demise, although he pointed out that Perth’s 16-12 record would get a team into the finals in almost any other year.
“It wasn’t their 39 per cent shooting that lost this, it was down the other end that this was lost,” Gaze said while commentating for ESPN.
“This didn’t play out how I thought it would. I thought it would be a real grind with Perth playing that in and under, Perth Wildcats defence but it was open and high scoring.
“When your defence is allowing your opponents easy opportunities, it’s very hard to win.
“But we should also say that to get a 16-12 record and not make the play-offs – that is unusual.”
The Wildcats have had some dramas this season, with long-time coach Trevor Gleeson moving to Canada to take up an assistant coaching role with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and NBA G-League coach Scott Morrison being named his replacement.
The team was forced to spend several months on the east coast due to Western Australia’s hard line on needing to quarantine when coming into the state, but they have been back home for the final weeks of the season catching up on home games but losing several important match-ups just as Melbourne United, Sydney Kings and Illawarra Hawks all found form.
Star import Vic Law injured his ankle last weekend, which saw his season end early and he was on crutches on Sunday night’s game.
Some big questions will be asked in Perth about how they can return to the finals next season.
Morrison made a statement before the post-game press conference on Sunday night thanking the fans and apologising for missing the finals, stating they would start work on Tuesday to return the club to finals next season.
“I’m sorry we didn’t meet your expectations this season,” Morrison said. “Things will be improved next season. I promise you that.”
Morrison also sent a classy message to the JackJumpers, a team that features former Wildcats assistant coach Scott Roth and several former players.
“I’ll add a congrats to Tasmania for making the finals in their first year, which is incredible,” Morrison said.
“They earned it. They beat us here at home a few weeks ago and that was a deciding factor. They are the hottest team in the league right now. I wish them the best of luck.”
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