Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge has never had a more humiliating defeat in his time at the club than the hiding dished out by Wollongong in round five.
The Wildcats were comprehensively outplayed in every facet of the game and the Hawks strolled to a 33-point win that kept them unbeaten on top of the NBL ladder.
For the Wildcats, the result sparked a three-game losing run that threatened to put a major dent in their championship ambitions.
Beveridge said his players wouldn’t forget the manner of that defeat and would be seeking redemption in tonight’s return match at Perth Arena.
“That was the most humiliating loss we’ve ever had as a group,” Beveridge said.
“They absolutely kicked our butts and it reinforced to us that we didn’t follow our system.
“We didn’t have belief in it and we got exposed badly. But what I’m saying to our players is that when we follow our system we are the best team in the league.”
That system is the fast-paced in-your-face style of game that has guided the Wildcats to two grand finals in three seasons under Beveridge.
It’s an exciting system that Wollongong import Lance Hurdle loves, but the American guard will stick to the Hawks’ tried and tested game plan of slowing down the tempo against an aggressive Wildcats side.
“They’re going to be fired up and they know what happened last time,” Hurdle said.
“That’ll be fresh in their minds and they’re going to come out foaming at the mouth. Perth will try to speed us up, but we have to stay poised and get the guys shots who are supposed to get shots.”
Wildcats import Michael Dunigan will be thrown straight into the action as a member of the starting five in his first NBL appearance.
Dunigan arrived this week as a replacement for injured centre Matt Knight and has slotted into his role well, promising to bring a competitive attitude and some excitement for Wildcats fans.
“I love his energy and his enthusiasm and I think we need someone like that,” Beveridge said.
“At this stage, I’d say he’ll definitely start. He’s come in with energy, passion, talk and the way he plays defence that’s infectious and we try to encourage all of our players to be like that.”
Wildcats co-captain Brad Robbins is expected to play after having stitches removed from his left index finger.
Robbins suffered a compound dislocation of the finger in Townsville less than a fortnight ago and the wound is yet to fully heal.
But he told Beveridge he wanted to play and only a late call from club medical staff would rule him out.
- Kobe Bryant has become the youngest player in NBA history to eclipse 30,000 career points and only the fifth overall to hit the mark.
Bryant entered the elite scoring club during the first half of the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets.
He arrived in New Orleans 13 points short, and scored his 13th and 14th points on a short jumper with 1:16 to go in the first half.
Because the basket came in the flow of play, there was hardly any reaction on the court as Bryant and his teammates ran back in defence.
Bryant is 34 and moves into elite company.Wilt Chamberlain was 35 when he hit the mark, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone were both 36 and Michael Jordan was 38.
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