The Perth Wildcats hope to attract a record crowd to Perth Arena for Friday’s clash with arch rivals New Zealand as part of the club’s bushfire appeal.
More than 50 homes have been destroyed in the Perth Hills bushfire and the Wildcats are determined to do their bit to help.
The club will donate $1 from every ticket sold and will auction the players’ game-worn singlets to raise funds for the appeal.
The top level of the Arena will be opened for the first time since last season’s grand final, with the Wildcats aiming to beat the record 13,527-strong crowd that was in attendance to witness that defeat to New Zealand.
The two teams have enjoyed an intense rivalry over the past three seasons and Wildcats captain Damian Martin expected another huge crowd in support of the home team and the bushfire appeal.
“Hopefully we can go a little bit better and sell it out completely and obviously the money will help out those involved in the bushfires,” Martin said.
“Friday night’s a big game, not only because we’re coming up against the team we've lost the last two grand finals to, but also it’s a fundraising event for us.
“We’re trying to raise as much money as possible.”
The heartbreaking story of West Coast Waves guard Shani Amos brought the devastating toll of the bushfires closer to home for the Wildcats.
Amos lost her family home in the fires and the close-knit basketball family has rallied around her this week.
“She had literally landed from a road trip, came home with her bag and got told she couldn’t go home because her house had burnt down,” Martin said.
“She’s only got what she packed for her away trip, and her mum only has what she was wearing and the handbag she was carrying.
“It’s one of those things where you read about it or see it on the news when there are bushfires around, but it becomes a bit more personal when a friend is impacted and as badly as they have been.
“Hopefully we can raise as much money as possible to not only help her and her mother, but also everyone else that was involved.”
Wildcats fans can bid for the game-worn singlets on the club website.