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Derby’s Keanu Pinder confident for finals despite Wildcats’ loss to Breakers

Cain Andrews and Craig O'DonoghueBroome Advertiser
Keanu Pinder of the Wildcats is introduced onto the court before Sunday’s match against the New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena.
Camera IconKeanu Pinder of the Wildcats is introduced onto the court before Sunday’s match against the New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Derby’s Keanu Pinder said he remains confident heading into the NBL finals series despite the Perth Wildcats’ 89-79 loss to the New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena on Sunday.

The Wildcats were riding high on the back of six wins in a row to storm into the top two and be in a position to challenge ladder leaders Melbourne United.

But the club has since lost to Illawarra at home, beaten last-placed South East Melbourne, and has now been defeated by the Breakers, giving the side a reality check in the lead-up to the finals.

Speaking to The West Australian post match, Pinder said he remains confident the Cats can overcome their latest challenge despite the loss.

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“There’s a lot of ups and downs in basketball. I think were fine,” he said.

“We had a great week of practice. Tonight we came out there and had some instances that put us out of our game. We didn’t have players playing that are important for our team.

“I feel like if we had them playing we would have been fine. I think we would have come out with this win. It happens. Its basketball. You’ve got to live with it.”

“I think we’re all heading in the right direction and we’re going to set ourselves up for the rest of the way.”

The Wildcats are now two games behind Melbourne making it unlikely they will climb any higher on the ladder. They need one more win to secure second place.

Coach John Rillie said it was a reminder to everyone how tough the league is.

”Its a great reality check before the play-offs,” he said.

“We’re just not playing at the level that we’re accustomed to. I just told the guys, you are never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad you think you are.

“We’ve got to find that with three games to go.”

Starters Hyrum Harris and Tai Webster were both in early foul trouble which forced Perth to adjust on the run.

New Zealand placed immense pressure on Bryce Cotton, restricting him to 13 point while Keanu Pinder responded with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but the Wildcats struggled to build momentum.

Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats drives to the key against Mangok Mathiang of the NZ Breakers.
Camera IconBryce Cotton of the Wildcats drives to the key against Mangok Mathiang of the NZ Breakers. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

“We all have to do a better job in how we help him,” Rillie said of Cotton.

“The way we play and when we’re at out best is getting stops and then playing with great momentum, they didn’t allow us to do that. The last little bit we’ve been playing offence at good pace.”

New Zealand lost Anthony Lamb to a serious ankle injury early in the game and he finished the match in a moon boot.

Zylan Cheatham scored 24 points and had nine rebounds and Parker Jackson-Cartwright had a big impact with 19 points and five assists.

The Wildcats next play Cairns at home on Saturday before matches against the Hawks and Tasmania to round out the season.

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