Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge has set his team the challenge of improving on last season’s impressive road record as they hunt a record sixth NBL championship.
The Wildcats finished the regular season with a league-best 9-5 record away from Challenge Stadium last season but face a difficult task to replicate that feat this time around, with their first five games scheduled away from home.
And they will be on the road for the remaining three weeks of the pre-season, with games in Cairns, Melbourne and Broome to round out their preparation for the season proper.
“It’s a very, very, very tough start to the season but we’re hoping all this travelling will bond us a lot more as well,” Beveridge said.
“We want to be in the best shape we can physically. Our recovery and nutrition programs have gone to a new level and it’s an education process, trying to teach these guys how to travel.
“But in saying that, we were the best team on the road last year. We’re going to set a goal of getting better than that and what better way to start than having five on the road.”
Wildcats management requested the horror early schedule because their prospective new home at Perth Arena will not be available until mid-November.
The club is yet to sign a deal to play at Perth Arena despite originally hoping to have an agreement in place with the new $550 million stadium’s venue manager in March.
The Wildcats’ pre-season campaign kicks into gear this week with two games on the road against Cairns on Thursday and Friday.
Big man Matt Knight and emerging forward Greg Hire will miss the trip, as will co-captain Brad Robbins, who is still sidelined after having wrist surgery.
Hire is still recovering from a finger complaint, while Knight has been told to make a slow return from shoulder surgery.
Knight is expected to play in next week’s official NBL pre-season tournament in Melbourne.
“He’s been going really well but we want him to come in slowly,” Beveridge said.
“We made the decision that this (the Cairns series) isn’t be all and end all.
“We’ll have a look at different combinations and he won’t be coming.”