Key moment: The final buzzer. After three years of being knocked out of the playoffs by New Zealand, including consecutive grand final losses, the Wildcats finally returned to the top of the NBL tree.
Key player: Jermaine Beal was a deserved Grand Final MVP, but in this game it was the energy and brute strength of Greg Hire (9 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) that Adelaide had no answer for.
Key stat: 4-0. The 36ers had won four of their previous six games in Perth coming into this season, but they couldn't manage a victory in four attempts in 2013/14 when the road to the championship ran through the west.
By Tracey Lewis, Pagemasters
The Perth Wildcats claimed a record sixth NBL championship, beating the Adelaide 36ers 93-59 in the deciding game three at Perth Arena.
Erasing the memories of grand final defeat on the same court to the New Zealand Breakers 12 months ago, the Wildcats took care of business in emphatic style to claim their first title since 2010.
“It’s indescribable,” said Wildcats captain Damian Martin after holding the Championship trophy aloft.
“After losing the last two to finally be on the other end and holding up that trophy is a dream come true, and we couldn’t have scripted it any better at home in game three in front of 14,000 people.”
Jermaine Beal was named Grand Final MVP, adding 15 points to his 38 in the first two games, while veterans Shawn Redhage (16 points) and Martin (14 points, 6 rebounds) also led the Wildcat pack.
“Jermaine has been great all year,” said first-time Championship-winning Trevor Gleeson.
“He has been hiding in the shadows behind Damo and James (Ennis).”
Asked what the difference was between Game 2 and 3, Gleeson said his team were all locked in.
“The guys defensively got on a roll,” he said.
“This team defensively has the ability to lock teams down and we locked Adelaide down in the second quarter.We got on top of them and built the pressure and we did that again in the third.
“The guys stepped up and really executed the game plan and I am so happy for them.”
For Adelaide, who were wooden-spooners last season, tenacious forward Anthony Petrie played a lone hand with 20 points.
Early on the 36ers had turned things around from Game 1 on this court six days ago, out-rebounding the Wildcats 14-7 in the first quarter.
Luke Schenscher (5 points, 7 rebounds) pulled in six of those and was himself being sent to the foul line at the other end, while Petrie was proving unstoppable in the post.
But the insertion of Greg Hire and Jesse Wagstaff paid immediate dividends on the glass for the hosts, while Redhage and Ennis ignited the sell-out crowd with fast-break jams as Perth claimed an 18-15 lead at the first break.
Wagstaff hit a long range bomb to open the second and the Wildcats started exposing the 36ers offensively, opening up a 12-point lead half-way through the quarter on the back of their committed rebounding and stingy defence.
The Cats pulled in 14 boards to the 36ers’ four for the term to turn the tide, while the 36ers couldn’t get shots to drop and were being out-hustled at both ends as the Wildcats streaked ahead 47-29 at half-time.
Adam Gibson was determined to keep Ennis out of the contest, putting his body on the line not long after the re-start to draw a charging foul from the Wildcats star before landing a three-pointer of his own to give his team hope.
But in stepped Matt Knight, working his big body in the key and getting to the foul line to keep the 36ers at arm's length.
“Our team did a good job on Ennis, not just Gibbo,” said Adelaide coach Joey Wright.
“We were aware of where he was at and trying to find him and keeping him off the board. He is such a talented player if you don’t find him he is going to make some tough shots, but we always thought Beal was the catalyst for the whole year.
“Ennis is a great player but Beal is the difference-maker, and coming into his series Beal is the one we were worried about and he was probably the better player.”
Through Mitch Creek and Rhys Carter the 36ers went on a 7-0 scoring streak but the Wildcats did more than match it, scoring the last eight points of the third quarter to take a 70-46 lead into the last quarter of the season.
With Beal capping off his fine series in the final term, that hurdle proved far too high for the visitors to overcome despite never conceding.
“I am happy with our guys for fighting through what they fought through,” Wright said.
“There have been some pretty monumental things that could have given us excuses to stop, from Gary’s knee surgery to Gibbo’s foot, Anthony’s osteitis pubis.
“They fought through and played through and stuck together and I’m proud of what they’ve done this year.
“I know they played the best basketball they can play and as a coach you want to try to get the best out of your team.
“I think we got the best out of ourselves this year and hopefully we can try and get better next year.”
Perth Wildcats 93 (Redhage 16, Beal 15, Martin 14)
Adelaide 36ers 59 (Petrie 20)
Crowd: 13,498 at Perth Arena