The backbone of the Perth Wildcats’ glory days has provided the foundation for the NBL club’s 30th anniversary All-Star team.
Four players from the success of the early to mid-1990s, when the WA club was atop the national competition, have been included in the starting line-up, announced at a special breakfast in the CBD this morning.
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The team, chosen by former championship-winning coach Adrian Hurley, leading WA coach and long-time Wildcats TV commentator John Gardiner and thewest.com.au sports editor Ross Lewis, includes six US-born players, three Sandgropers and one who began his career in South Australia.Andrew Vlahov and Mike Ellis were named co-captains of the team while Hurley, who wasn't involved in the selection of the coach, was named as the line-up's mentor.
Cal Bruton was recognised for his contribution to the Wildcats by being honoured with the title of team general manager.
Bruton was a major force in lifting Perth's fortunes in the late 1980s and led the club to its first NBL title in 1990.
Vlahov, who spent 11 years with the Wildcats and was a co-owner of the club before Jack Bendat took over in 2005, said being picked in the all-star starting five was a huge honour.
“It’s been a phenomenal relationship that I’ve had with the club for a long time and I think many of the players feel the same way,” Vlahov said.
“And you know what else? It’s getting better. It’s getting bigger, it’s getting better and look at us now – we’re the envy of every NBL club.
“It’s only going to continue as we get stronger teams. I can feel another dynasty coming on.”
Kevin Lisch arrived as a rookie in 2009 and made an immediate impact, winning the grand final series MVP award as the Wildcats claimed a drought-breaking championship in his first season.
Lisch confirmed his status as a star of the competition last season when he was named league MVP and was humbled by his latest honour.
“It really is a nice honour and it’s quite a surprise,” Lisch said.
“I’ve been here for four years which I guess is long by import standards but it’s an honour being with those guys up there.”
The announcement of the best-of team follows three days of celebrations to mark the achievements of the most successful franchise in NBL history.
WILDCATS ALL-STAR TEAM
StartersJAMES CRAWFORD (centre)
RICKY GRACE (guard)
BenchPAUL ROGERS (centre)
MIKE ELLIS (guard)
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