A near triple-double from Nathan Sobey has helped Brisbane Bullets snap a five-game losing streak after holding on to claim an enthralling 97-93 overtime victory over Perth Wildcats.
Sobey finished Tuesday night’s thriller at Nissan Arena with 30 points, including six of Brisbane’s 10 points in the extra period, to go with nine assists and six rebounds as the Bullets ended Perth’s run of four straight wins.
With Tyler Johnson, Tanner Krebs and Gorjok Gak returning from injuries, Brisbane appeared on track to end their losing streak after building an 80-67 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But the visitors fired back through three-time league MVP Bryce Cotton to set up a nerve-wracking finish with both teams missing potential game-winning shots in the dying seconds to leave the scores level 87-87 at the end of regulation.
Brisbane had two key players foul out of the contest with Jason Cadee exiting in the fourth quarter while Aron Baynes picked up his fifth foul on a contentious blocking call early in the extra period, but crucial plays from Sobey and Gak helped the home side get over the line.
Greg Vanderjagt capped a big week following the announcement he was staying on as Brisbane’s head coach for the remainder of the season by earning his first win in the role.
“I don’t know if it was relief, jubilation, or a combination of a lot of things. I think it’s just when we’re close to a whole basketball team … we are a very different beast,” Vanderjagt said about his emotions after a near full-strength Bullets outfit defeated Perth for the second time in a row.
A sequence of seven losses in the last eight games had left the Bullets languishing in ninth place with a 4-12 record but their lone victory during this period came against the Wildcats, a 106-95 result back in round nine.
Perth led 19-16 after one quarter then increased their buffer to nine in the second period but Cadee found his shooting stroke and Krebs hit his third triple of the half in the final second to put Brisbane ahead 41-40 at halftime.
Baynes handed Brisbane a fast start to the second half and Sobey went on to score 15 points in the third quarter as the Bullets surged ahead by double digits but Cotton was the catalyst for Perth’s fourth-quarter comeback, inspiring a run of 12 straight points.
Cotton finished with 30 points for the Wildcats but a miserable 22-of-40 night from the free throw line proved costly for the visitors as they blew the opportunity to join fourth-placed Cairns with a 10-7 win-loss record.