Wildcats break NZ hoodoo for another title - Mar 6, 2016
The Perth Wildcats have beaten the New Zealand Breakers for the first time in an NBL Finals Series after captain Damian Martin (186-PG-84, college: Loyola Mary) spearheaded a dominant 75-52 Grand Final Game 3 victory at Perth Arena on Sunday. Martin became a three-time Championship winner and it was his remarkable defence across the whole series that was the biggest difference between his Wildcats and the Breakers. Martin had another 10 points, eight rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist in the 23-point victory. But the Breakers managing to shoot 14-of-49 from the floor at 29 per cent and having 13 turnovers was majorly influenced by Martin. As was Cedric Jackson (191-G-86, college: Cleveland St.) going scoreless shooting 0-of-5 with five rebounds and two assists before fouling out early in the fourth. Martin received the Larry Sengstock Medal as the Grand Final MVP while becoming a three-time Championship winner alongside Shawn Redhage (seven points) and Jesse Wagstaff (203-F-86, college: Metro St.) (four points, five rebounds, five assists). 'It's very special and it's one of those awards I probably don't appreciate to the full extent right now just because I'm caught up with the whole lifting the trophy,' Martin said. 'But to win that individual accolade is something I'm sure I will think about once the celebrating unwinds. I'm grateful my name was called. Obviously I've been on the receiving end of losing a couple because of New Zealand, but just to stand up there and hold the trophy is a special feeling.' Matthew Knight (204-C/F-85, college: Loyola Mary) (four points, 11 rebounds), Greg Hire (two rebounds), Jermaine Beal (191-G-87, college: Vanderbilt) (14 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Tom Jervis (eight points, nine boards, three blocks) all become two-time winners. Casey Prather (19 points), Nate Jawai (nine points) and Jarrod Kenny (one assist) won their first title. The win was all the more special for the Wildcats given it came in front of a sold out Perth Arena crowd against a New Zealand team who beat them in the Semi Finals of 2011 and Grand Finals of 2012 and 2013. The Breakers celebrated in 2013 at Perth Arena but they came up short in Game 3 losing a Grand Final Series for the first time, and their first Finals Series since 2009. Thomas Abercrombie (198-F/G-87, college: Washington St., agency: Priority Sports) was a virtual lone hand offensively for New Zealand with 21 points, six rebounds and four steals. Corey Webster (188-G-88, college: Lambuth) struggled to seven points on 3-of-13 shooting with Charles Jackson (208-C-93, college: Tenn Tech) finishing with seven points and 12 rebounds, and Tai Wesley seven points. 'The first quarter we looked like we were in the fight but they got their tails up and kept rotating people at us with the pressure they continued to apply,' outgoing coach Dean Vickerman said. 'Against that you need to make shots and keep making statements but we couldn't make a run offensively. Obviously a number of players were down on what they've been doing all year. But I'm proud that Thomas Abercrombie stood up. We just didn't have enough other contributors.' The Breakers actually started strongly and led 14-10 after six minutes on the back of threes to Thomas Abercrombie and Webster. But the Wildcats' depth started to pay off with threes to Redhage and Wagstaff, and two big plays from Jervis saw them lead 22-18. Jawai then threatened to take over in the post again like Game 1 and that helped the 'Cats to a double-figure lead which grew to 12 by half-time on the back of a Martin triple. The first five points of the second half saw Perth's lead grow to 17 points and the Breakers never surrendered, but didn't again get closer than 15. Cedric Jackson's game to forget ended when he fouled out two minutes into the fourth quarter and that spelled the end. Thomas Abercrombie and Reuben TeRangi hit late threes for New Zealand but it was Perth's time to celebrate. Prather capped it off with a big three and dunk before the bench was cleared and the monster crowd gave send offs to their stars led by Martin. Courtesy of: nbl.com.au
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