Sport Basketball Perth Wildcats one win away from 10th NBL title
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Perth Wildcats one win away from 10th NBL title

Stacks on: Wildcat Jesse Wagstaff hits the deck during game three of the finals against Sydney Kings. Photo: AAP
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Perth stars Bryce Cotton and Nick Kay have shone bright for the Wildcats, who have moved to within one win of a 10th NBL title with a 111-96 away win over Sydney on Sunday.

Guard and league MVP Cotton scored 31 points and Boomers forward Kay, 30, as the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead in the best-of five series, with the home team yet to win a game.

Cotton continued his scoring stranglehold this season over the Kings, but Kay proved the long-distance assassin, making seven of nine three-point attempts.

A small but vociferous contingent of Perth supporters made their presence felt as, for the second straight game, the match was closed to the public.

A win in game four on Friday in Perth will secure the Wildcats a fifth title in the past seven seasons, while the Kings must win at RAC Arena to force a decider two days later in Sydney.

Perth never trailed at any stage of game three and looked to be coasting to victory when it led 39-20 in the second quarter.

Brad Newley single-handedly dragged Sydney back into the game in the second quarter, scoring 16 out of the Kings’ first 19 points in that term, including 12 straight, as they pulled to within 10 at halftime.

Successive three-pointers to captain Kevin Lisch drew Sydney level at 63-63 in the third, but the Kings were outscored 21-7 in the remainder of the term to trail by 14 going into the last period.

Sydney made one final run in the final quarter, cutting a 16-point deficit to five with just under six minutes to go, but Perth closed out the game comfortably down the stretch.

Cotton and Kay had good offensive support from centre Miles Plumlee and guard Clint Steindl, who each scored 13.

Plumlee tallied more points, rebounds and blocks than Kings counterpart Andrew Bogut, who dominated their match-up in the first two games.

Jae’Sean Tate led Sydney’s scorers with 20 followed by Newley, 19, Lisch, 16, and Casper Ware, 11.

The Wildcats shot at 52 per cent from the field, nailing 14 of their 30 long bombs while Sydney made just eight of 33.

Perth were sparked early by Kay and Plumlee and later in the first quarter by sharpshooter Steindl, who hit two threes after coming off the bench, as they led by 11 at quarter-time.

-AAP