Perth's Plumlee eyes NBL heavyweights

Wildcats import Miles Plumlee is eyeing big NBL matches in Melbourne and Sydney this week.
Wildcats import Miles Plumlee is eyeing big NBL matches in Melbourne and Sydney this week.

Miles Plumlee has added a defensive edge to the Perth Wildcats that the reigning champions needed.

Just how big of an edge will become apparent in the coming week when the second-placed Cats play Melbourne United with Shawn Long (away) and Andtrew Bogut's Sydney Kings (at home).

But going by his dominant performance on Saturday night, he looks up to it.

Against an in-form New Zealand Breakers, Plumlee dropped 23 points and pulled down 17 rebounds (14 at the defensive end). His two blocks were massive too.

The Wildcats scored 48 points from the paint and 23 of those were from Plumlee.

The last time Perth produced figures like that was in 2007 when Paul Rogers scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against Singapore. That game was not only in the 48-minute era, but it also went into overtime.

Coach Trevor Gleeson couldn't hide his delight after the 346 NBA game veteran got his Cats over the line on Saturday.

"Normally big guys, except for the elite few, have more of an impact on a game on the defensive end; the rebounds, the block shots, you can start a lot of fast breaks that way," he said.

"Miles does that; it's why we brought him in, to give us more rim protection above the rim. Our rebounding was lacking.

"Offensively, the guys are trying to find him. We're like kids in a candy store at the moment.

"He is so athletic. You throw the ball up there - and that's hard to defend."

Dario Hunt had to make way for Plumlee. Hunt had some quality games, but he wasn't the imposing figure at the rim that Plumlee was on Saturday.

And with captain Damian Martin still not on the training court and unable to put a date on his return, Plumlee's extra pressure in defence is important.

If he can improve on his free-throw shooting, he'll be an even more dangerous in attack too.

The new Cat has gone 3-10 from the charity line in his three games, which resulted in Gleeson pulling him from the game in the dying seconds on Saturday.

Plumlee is still working on it, but he's thoroughly enjoying the rest of his game.

"It was a lot of fun; the most fun I have had in a long time," he said on Saturday.

"I am thankful I have these teammates and this coach; they have gone an extra mile to get going.

"I felt I was in the right spot a lot and it was simple stuff - not rocket science... a lot of dunks.

"Thankfully I have a lot of unselfish guys I am playing with, which is a lot of fun."

Australian Associated Press