Perth Wildcats’ 35-year NBL playoff streak ends, Tasmania Jackjumpers advance in debut season
Posted On April 24, 2022
The Perth Wildcats will miss the NBL finals for the first time since 1986 after falling at home to South East Melbourne in overtime, 102-100.
- A thrilling OT win by South East Melbourne over Perth means the Wildcats will miss the playoffs for the first time in 35 years
- The result means the Tasmania Jackjumpers take the final playoffs spot in their first ever NBL season
- The Wildcats were 15-0 this year in games they led after three quarters, but dropped the one that mattered most
In the final game of the NBL regular season, the Wildcats faced a do-or-die clash with the Phoenix after Tasmania moved up to fourth place with a win over minor premiers Melbourne on Saturday.
Bryce Cotton had an opportunity to tie the game with just under 10 seconds remaining in OT, but his fade-away jumper bounced off the iron, stunning the Wildcats’ packed crowd at RAC Arena.
Their loss means, incredibly, the JackJumpers will play United in the semi-finals after Scott Roth’s side qualified for the final four in their maiden season in the NBL.
Prior to Sunday, Perth were 15-0 in games when they led at three quarter time, but the Phoenix played spoilers, matching them on every run.
Facing a 80-75 deficit late in the fourth after Kyle Adnam caught fire for the visitors, Cotton (who scored a game-high 28 points) finally found his range after struggling from beyond the arc all evening.
Cotton carved his way to the rim to tie the game at 90-apiece, before Xavier Munford’s (24 points) game-winning mid-range shot rattled off the rim to send the game to five extra minutes.
Then came Zhou Qi.
With the Chinese big man fed possession after possession in the post, he got the better of both Perth’s Matthew Hodgson and Majok Majok.
Their only scores outside of the 216cm big man from there was a coast-to-coast layup from Munford and an erratic jumper to Mitch Creek whose ball bounced around and dropped with a blemish from the basketball Gods.
At 101-98, Cotton thought he’d brought them to within one with a free throw to come, but he was called for an offensive foul after using his left arm to hook around Munford.
Brandon Ashley then made one from two at the stripe before Cotton carved his way to a layup.
The Phoenix missed their final attempt but the reigning MVP couldn’t get his game-tying shot to fall for the home side.