Andrej Lemanis is not happy ahead of the opening game of the NBL playoffs.
Andrej Lemanis is not happy ahead of the opening game of the NBL playoffs.

Lemanis shoots down Wildcats mind games

BULLETS coach Andrej Lemanis has fired back at Wildcats counterpart Trevor Gleeson for his "disappointing'' efforts to put pressure on the referees ahead of Thursday night's opening match of the NBL semi-final series at Perth's RAC Arena.

Perth mentor Gleeson set the scene for a spicy best-of-three series when he accused the "very physical" Brisbane of using "illegal screens'' and suggested officials let some contact go unpunished in the finals.

Lemanis and Gleeson have been coaching against each other in the NBL for years with 16 wins apiece from their 32 clashes.

Combined, they have won six of the last eight NBL titles with three championships apiece as head coaches.

Gleeson was also a Boomers assistant coach under Lemanis at the Rio Olympics but they are on opposite sides of the fence about the pre-match mind games.

"At the end of the day, I was just a little bit disappointed that that's the tactic they would choose to take,'' Lemanis said.

"They're a club I've really respected, they've had a lot of success over time so for them to choose to go down that path, I guess for me, ultimately, was a little disappointing.''

Andrej Lemanis (standing) and assistant coach Trevor Gleeson (seated, second from left) watch on during the bronze medal game at the Rio Olympics. Picture: Adam Head.
Andrej Lemanis (standing) and assistant coach Trevor Gleeson (seated, second from left) watch on during the bronze medal game at the Rio Olympics. Picture: Adam Head.

Lemanis said Brisbane would let their basketball do the talking with a focus on winning the rebounding battle and limiting turnovers to avoid "igniting" the Wildcats' offence in front of 13,000-plus spectators.

"We go there with good confidence. We've won in Perth before, we've got a lot of players who have won big games in Perth before,'' he said.

"It's a great environment, as the away team you can feed off the atmosphere just as well as the home team so it's a good place to go and play basketball.

"We've got to be disciplined and organised and make sure we play on the front foot.''

Lemanis said walking the tightrope just to qualify for the play-offs was good preparation for the intensity of the finals but Brisbane could not be satisfied with just making the top four.

 

The Bullets need to bring their good practice form to matches.
The Bullets need to bring their good practice form to matches.

"Being in a couple of must-win situations already will give the group some confidence but a sense of calm coming in,'' he said.

"We've spoken about it as a group that reaching the play-offs isn't the destination. It's step one of what we ultimately want to achieve and that's to go and win a championship so we are not getting too wrapped up in making the play-offs.

"It's 'good, well done', now let's move on to the important business … we've got a couple of games to win.''

Twenty-three of the last 24 finals series involving Perth have been won by the team that took out game one. The only exception was when the Lemanis-coached New Zealand Breakers won the last two games of the 2011 semi-final series against the Wildcats.

NBL semi-final, Game One

Perth Wildcats v Brisbane Bullets

RAC Arena, Perth

THURSDAY, 9.20pm tip-off (QLD time)

TV: Fox Sports

Ladbrokes: Perth $1.29, Brisbane $3.55

Game 2 - Boondall, Saturday, March 2 - 1.50pm (Qld time)

Game 3 (if required) - RAC Arena, Perth - Monday, March 4

Previous meetings this season:

Rd 2: Perth 88-73 (in Perth)

Rd 3: Brisbane 100-96 (in Brisbane)

Rd 5: Perth 90-87 (in Perth)

Rd 10: Brisbane 93-86 (in Brisbane)