Game 1- Friday March 8, 7:20pm AWST (10:20 AEDT) @ Perth Arena
Game 2- Sunday March 10, 2:50pm AEDT (11:50 AWST) @ Melbourne Arena
Game 3- Friday March 15, 7:35pm AWST (10:35 AEDT) @ Perth Arena
Game 4- Sunday March 17, 2:20pm AEDT (11:20 AWST) @ Melbourne Arena
Game 5- TBC
While the NBL have a fetish with changing the dates of the Grand Final as they try to dodge the footy season to maintain relevancy, not much has changed from last year, as MELBOURNE UNITED are once again in the Grand Final, but a familiar name has returned to win yet another title- THE PERTH WILDCATS.
This is the first time Perth and Melbourne have faced off in the Grand Final Series since the epic 1993 encounter between the Cats and the-then Melbourne Tigers, led by Andrew Gaze and coached by his Hall of Fame dad Lindsay, who pulled off a 2-1 upset by winning Game 3 104-102 in Perth (Their first ever win in Perth) to win their maiden NBL title.
Ricky Grace ended up becoming the first player to be named Grand Final MVP in a losing team.
25 years on from Grace vs Gaze, we’ve got Casper vs Cotton- Let’s check out the teams!
The NBL’s preeminent superpower is into the NBL Grand Final for the 3rd time in 4 years, and for the 7th time in the 2010s (4 wins and 2 losses), but what’s been most impressive to me is how the Wildcats have managed to unite Eagles and Dockers fans, especially after ‘that’ incident.
The Bullets talked about the NBL finals being a whole different ballgame, and they were right, as the Cats ramped things up and blew them away in a 2-game sweep. My prediction of Ricky Grace making a cameo appearance prior to Game 1 was absolutely spot on, but even Stevie Wonder could’ve seen that one coming.
As for the ferocious predators that roam ‘The Jungle’, Bryce Cotton is the best offensive player in the league, Terrico White is the Robin to his Batman, Nick Kay is an outstanding two-way player, and their defensive beasts Damian Martin and Mitch Norton are set to be reunited as Norton finally returns from a quad injury he sustained in January- Just in time to battle the backcourt of Ware and Goulding.
Cats coach Trevor Gleeson says his team have “Some things up our sleeve”, which he apparently didn’t use when they lost to United in overtime in the season ending game.
But what would Gleeson know, he may have won three titles, but has he won Coach of the Year twice?
I once asked Casper Ware what the difference was between the Sydney Kings and a pack of cigarettes.
Casper doesn’t smoke cigarettes.
The defending champions are back in the Grand Final after Ware and Chris Goudling combined to easily swept the Kings, and devastated Andrew Bogut so much that he travelled back in time and rejoined the Warriors!
‘The Ghost’ and ‘Good As’ Goulding are probably the best performed backcourt in the league, and they’ve got a championship pedigree to back it up. Goulding also showed his talents extended into the field of all-in brawls, when the took on the entire Philippines team last year.
And then there’s DJ Kennedy, who dominates the backboards like he does the sound boards at clubs, where he performs under the alias of DJ Kennedy,
And of course, the mastermind of this United team is the two-time Coach of the Year Dean Vickerman, who for some reason won this year’s award despite winning 3 fewer games and dropping from 1st to 2nd, while Trevor Gleeson didn’t even finish in the Top 4.
2 COTY titles and 1 championship- He’s basketball’s answer to Luke Beveridge!
The season series was like a mirror- The Cats won both games at home, with one in overtime, and United won both games at home, with one in overtime.
If this series is half as good as the United-36ers series from last year, then the fans should be satisfied, especially since it’s guaranteed that one of the two most hated teams in the league will lose.
The Cats have home court advantage and I’m biased, so I’ll back them to win it in 5.
Another chapter awaits in the storied rivalry between the Cities of Perth and Melbourne… a rivalry that only Sandgropers seem to care about.
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