Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson celebrated two major milestones after his side scored an emphatic 106-75 win over South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Gleeson entered Thursday night’s contest at the State Basketball Centre level with Alan Black for most games coached in Wildcats history (230 games), along with most victories (145 wins).
The defending premiers ensured the five-time championship-winning coach eclipsed both marks by holding the Phoenix to 11 points in the second quarter and establishing a 48-27 advantage by halftime.
There was no way back for the Phoenix after the main break as Todd Blanchfield scored a season-high 22 points and import centre John Mooney finished with a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds) to see Perth improve to a 2-2 record.
“That’s an unbelievable achievement,” guard Mitch Norton said after Gleeson etched his name into club folklore.
“It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you’re at, you are going to learn things from him and you’re going to be held accountable – I think that’s been a great recipe for success.”
Perth’s early-season struggles from beyond the arc continued after making just 1-of-9 three-point shots as South East Melbourne held a narrow lead approaching the end of the first quarter.
But tough finishing from veteran Tom Jervis and Mitch Norton triggered a 6-0 burst for Perth to close the term ahead 21-16 and the home side quickly unravelled as the Wildcats took charge in the second quarter.
Perth’s superior ball movement and strength under the basket came to the fore as they outscored the Phoenix 27-11 to amass a 21-point lead at halftime.
Any hopes of a second-half Phoenix comeback were dashed as Bryce Cotton triggered a 9-2 start to the third quarter as the lead quickly became insurmountable for the home side.
Guard Kyle Adnam (24 points) was one of the few shining lights for the Phoenix with coach Simon Mitchell unable to mask his disappointment after the loss.
“I thought we were timid, I thought we were physically ill-equipped to handle the pressure that they provided and that was on both sides of the ball,” Mitchell said.
“We tried to throw some different line-ups out there, a couple of different looks from a defensive standpoint and we didn’t really have any answers.”
The two teams will face off again on Sunday in what will be their fourth meeting of the season.