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NBL 2022: Excitement building as NBL pre-season clash heads to Eaton Recreation Centre

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
New Perth Wildcats coach John Rillie is tipped to get the best out of his talented squad in 2022-23.
Camera IconNew Perth Wildcats coach John Rillie is tipped to get the best out of his talented squad in 2022-23. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Anticipation is building ahead of Friday night’s NBL pre-season scrimmage between the Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers at the Eaton Recreation Centre.

It has been a long wait for South West hoops enthusiasts, who last got to cheer on both sides back in 2019 at the South West Sports Centre.

On that night, the Wildcats got home 100-98, with Jesse Wagstaff sinking a jump shot with 1.8 seconds left in the game.

A year later, the Shire of Dardanup looked to have secured a Wildcats-36ers pre-season fixture at the Eaton Recreation Centre, however plans fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Several things have changed since the Wildcats last hit the floor in the South West.

One of these new variables is the appointment of coach John Rillie, who replaced outgoing coach Scott Morrison. A proven NBL player in his heyday with the Townsville Crocodiles, this role is Rillie’s first as an NBL head coach.

Naturally having talent at your disposal is imperative in order to pursue championship aspirations — and Rillie has recently been able to welcome some new pieces to play with as he wrestles with a weekly NBL jigsaw puzzle.

One of these new arrivals is American import Brady Manek, who enjoyed a distinguished US college career at the universities of Oklahoma and North Carolina.

Manek, a 206cm forward, is no stranger to big games either — after starting for the Tar Heels in the March Madness championship final earlier this year against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Another player to potentially keep an eye out for on Friday night is fellow American TaShawn Thomas, who joined the Wildcats on the back of a solid European stint.

Thomas, who grew up in Killeen, Texas, is a 203cm power forward who appears to enjoy being able to pass and create inside the paint for his teammates.

Outside of their game commitments, the Wildcats will have a pre-game shoot-around on Friday morning at the Eaton Recreation Centre, along with a special meet and greet opportunity on Saturday morning at a Bunbury-based sports store.

Tip off for Friday night’s game is 6.30pm.

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