There’s been no love lost between Perth and Sydney in the past, but Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson feels a new page has been turned in the famous rivalry as two NBL powerhouses gear up for Tuesday night’s grand final rematch.
The Wildcats were leading the best-of-five grand final series 2-1 last season when the Kings decided to pull out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perth were eventually awarded the Championship after much debate, with then-Kings centre Andrew Bogut lashing the NBL’s handling of the grand final series.
Matches between Perth and Sydney have historically been tough, hard-fought affairs, with Bogut playing a central role in recent seasons.
In 2018, Gleeson even pushed Bogut after the former NBA star tried to listen in on a Perth huddle.
But with Bogut now retired and a host of Wildcats mainstays no longer there, Gleeson feels Tuesday night will mark a fresh chapter in the rivalry between the two clubs.
“It’s hugely different. There’s not (Jae’Sean) Tate, there’s no Bogut. We don’t have four of our starters, it’s totally different,” Gleeson said.
“The characters involved in last year are no longer here. There’s different characters, and a chance to put a new stamp on the rivalry.
“It was an exciting time last year, and to play in that finals was a great journey for us. We leave it where it is, and start up a new one.
“The page is turned on that one, and we look forward to playing them tomorrow night.”
Both the Wildcats and Kings are yet to hit their groove this season.
Sydney are in fourth spot with a 4-4 record, while the Wildcats (3-3) are fifth.
Both clubs are coming off good wins – Sydney thrashing Adelaide 94-77 on Sunday, while the Wildcats beat ladder leaders Melbourne United 89-85 a day earlier.
Wildcats star Bryce Cotton overcame some wayward shooting in the first three quarters to finish with 29 points.
The American guard rolled his ankle in the dying moments of the game, but Gleeson said Cotton would be fit to take on the Kings.
“The ankle’s fine, there’s no worries at all. He’s a soldier,” Gleeson said.