Milestone men’s focus will be on rebound numbers
BRISBANE'S Andrej Lemanis will bring up his 350th game as an NBL head coach when the Bullets host reigning champion Perth at Nissan Arena on Friday night.
His opposite number Trevor Gleeson will be guiding the Wildcats for the 200th time but the milestones are not the numbers that will matter in the rematch of last season's semi-final series when Perth swept past the Bullets on the way to their ninth NBL crown.
The rebound count could well decide if Brisbane snap a three-game losing streak or if the Wildcats march on to their fourth-straight win.
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There is a reason that the saying, "offence wins fans, defence wins games and rebounding wins championships" is one of the oldest cliches going around in basketball.
Nobody crashes the boards like the Wildcats who lead the league with 16 offensive rebounds per game this season while Brisbane are last in that category with an average of 6.8.
The Bullets (2-3) have lost the rebound count in every game this season with their overall differential hitting minus 38. Perth (5-1) hit 29 three-pointers across their two wins over southeast Melbourne and Illawarra last weekend so Brisbane can ill afford giving the Wildcats second-shot opportunities.
Import Taylor Braun has led Brisbane's rebounding in the past three games in addition to leading the league in the assists to turnover ratio with 18 assists this season and just the one turnover.
Meanwhile, Cairns head coach Mike Kelly says the Taipans will continue being aggressive and going to big men Cameron Oliver and Nate Jawai when the Snakes meet the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland on Thursday.
"We have guys that can finish at the rim," Kelly said.
"We will continue to go at the rim and if they stop us there, we will kick it out to shooters."
Oliver got off to a slow start against Melbourne star Shawn Long in Cairns' win over United on Monday night before finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the stirring upset victory.
He also had 21 points and eight boards in the loss to Adelaide after 36ers power forward Daniel Johnson dominated early.
Fellow Taipans import Scott Machado said Oliver did not need reminders to lift his output.
"He owns up to it, he knows when he is not doing what he is supposed to be doing," Machado said.
"People could come up and tell him, but he will own up first before people have too.
"He knew what he had to do. We have been preaching that in the locker room all season, be accountable for what you do."