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Wildcats ready for Cotton-less NBL finals

Perth veteran Jesse Wagstaff believes the four matches the Wildcats have had to play without star import Bryce Cotton will be invaluable heading into the NBL finals.

Two-time MVP Cotton has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing emergency surgery on May 23 after suffering a haematoma to his left quadriceps.

Without Cotton, the Wildcats won two and lost two of their final four regular season matches to finish second on the ladder.

Wagstaff however expects those four matches to be vital heading into the best-of-three semi-final series starting against the Illawarra Hawks, starting on Thursday.

“Bryce being gone, what is it? Four games now? Gives us an opportunity to adjust,” Wagstaff said.

“Obviously he’s a huge focal point of our offence and our team, and rightfully so, but those four games have been good for us to really adjust and just tweak things.

“It is a huge shift but I think we’ve got the personnel still to do it.

“It’s just tweaks here and there … finding different avenues.”

One of those two defeats was to the Hawks, a two-point loss on June 1 where import Tyler Harvey scored a dominant 27 points.

Limiting the American point guard’s impact on the scoreboard will be a big focus but Wagstaff said the Wildcats had not helped themselves with some careless ball security, giving away 15 turnovers in the 81-79 loss.

“You give them the rock, you give them easy baskets, it doesn’t help,” he said.

“Things like that.

“It’s been a focus all year but when you have a season-high turnovers (count), it doesn’t help.

“Taking care of the ball is always an emphasis. We hang our hat defensively. Limiting their scoring opportunities for guys like Harvey and guys like that.”

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