NBL: Epic rivalry set for next great chapter
|Dean Zardo||Feb 29, 2016|
In a season full of twist, turns and surprises, one thing has remained the same.
The 2015/16 NBL grand final series will feature the two greatest sides of the modern era, with Perth set to face off with rivals New Zealand once more.
Photo Credit: NBL Media
The sides have shared the past six championships, with that domination set to continue regardless of which side lifts the trophy this time around.
New Zealand has won four championships in that time, including a three-peat, and will aim for a fifth when they try to go back-to-back once more.
Perth, meanwhile, has two championships to their name in the past six years and have reached the post-season 30 consecutive times, holding the record for the longest streak by any professional sporting club in the world.
Both rosters are stacked with talent, mixing ageless veterans and role players with superstar imports and young rising stars.
It very nearly didn’t happen this way, with the Wildcats having to survive a game three decider in the semi-final series against Illawarra, while the Breakers were all-but out of contention with two weeks to go in the regular season before somehow climbing off the canvas, making the top four and winning through to the big dance in a 2-0 sweep of minor premiers Melbourne.
Photo Credit: NBL Media
The fact that both clubs have reached the grand final once again is a testament to the old adage that defence wins championships, with both the Wildcats and Breakers knocking out the league’s two most offensive-biased clubs in the semi-finals.
There will be mouth-watering one-on-ones all over the floor, too, with borderline NBA talent, former league MVP’s, all-stars and future hall-of-famers all taking to the court and going toe-to-toe.
Cedric Jackson will do battle with Damian Martin, Jermaine Beal will try and out-shoot Corey Webster, Nate Jawai and Matt Knight will bang bodies with Alex Pledger and Charles Jackson inside, Mika Vukona and Tai Wesley will try and out-hustle Jesse Wagstaff and Tom Jervis, and athletes Casey Prather and Tom Abercrombie will fly through the air to top it off - does it get any better?
Perth will start slight favourites given they hold home-court advantage in the series; however that hasn’t seemed to bother New Zealand all that much over the last six years.
Both are truly dominant ball clubs of the modern era, getting ready to do battle yet again.
No matter the venue, the time of year or their positions on the ladder at the time, either of these super sides can beat the other, making for a magnificent spectacle every time.
The next epic chapter in this great rivalry is set to be written this week, and while it could well prove to be the best yet, you can almost certainly guarantee it won’t be the last.