Wildcats aim to become NBL road warriors

They caught fire at home, but Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson knows his team need to become road warriors over the next month if they are to have a legitimate shot of winning the NBL title.

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The Wildcats put in arguably the best display of the season in their 113-83 rout of Melbourne United in Thursday’s top-of-the-table clash at Perth Arena.

Jermaine Beal led the way with a club-record 10 three-pointers on the way to a 40-point haul, while fellow American Casey Prather (20 points) put in another strong display.

The result catapulted Perth (11-5) into top spot on the NBL table.

But their top-two hopes will go on the line over the next month during a challenging five-game stretch on the road.

The Wildcats start their run on Sunday when they lock horns with the last-placed Kings in Sydney, before facing off against Cairns, Townsville, Melbourne, and Cairns again.

“These next five games are going to mark where we’re going to finish in the season, whether we’ll be in the top two,” Gleeson said.

“Getting a top-two position is crucial if you want to win the championship – to get that home-court advantage.

“We know Melbourne, NZ, and us are right up there. We know how tough it is.”

Gleeson is confident Matt Knight will feature in Sunday’s game against the Kings despite the centre injuring his left shoulder against Melbourne.

Knight fell heavily on the troublesome shoulder while attempting a lay-up, but Gleeson said he could have returned to the court if needed.

“I know Matty’s been pretty tough this year. The shoulder’s popped out a number of times,” Gleeson said.

“He bounces back pretty strong. I was glad to see him get up.”