Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge wants to make several things clear.
He doesn't have an issue with Gary Wilkinson celebrating in the playoffs - it's just that he feels the Breakers forward went too far in the double overtime round-robin win in Perth. In fact, Beveridge has never "trash-talked'' a player in his career.
He disputes the Breakers' assertions that Perth crossed the line with their physicality in their thrilling 87-86 game two win on Friday night which pushed the series to tonight's decider at Auckland's Vector Arena.
And he reckons the Breakers would be favourites to claim the match and a consecutive NBL title, no doubt about it.
Injuries to two key Perth players add weight to his final point. Damian Martin wore a moon boot yesterday to protect torn ligaments in an ankle suffered in the game at Challenge Stadium.
The guard was due to have another scan yesterday but was considered likely to play regardless.
Lisch, Perth's key offensive player, has a corked thigh which swelled during the long flight to Auckland, and although he played a limited part in training yesterday (Mon), he will definitely play.
Beveridge's claim he doesn't have an issue with Wilkinson was not as convincing, despite him putting it all down to a media beat up.
"That was totally blown out of proportion. The only concern I had was back in [the regular season] when it was only a game of basketball - it wasn't a grand finals series - and the amount of celebrating that was going on, that's what I spoke about. And it all gets blown out of proportion that I was whinging about Wilkinson. I couldn't care less about Wilkinson celebrating, good on him, he can do that. I made the comment back in a round game when it was only a game. Grand finals' series, that's different.''
Despite his assertions that he only had an issue with Wilkinson's antics the Perth, he was at it again following the Breakers' game one win at Vector Arena. But Beveridge said he was hurt by the criticism coming from the New Zealand media and was particularly pained by former Breaker Paul Henare's negative comments in a newspaper.
"We've got enormous respect for New Zealand and for their players. I've never trash-talked a player in my entire career and yet I get slammed in different papers and Paul Henare coming out... well Henare I thought you were a friend. He's known me for a long time. I just don't get into that.''
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis yesterday spoke about "cheap shots'', with Perth's Shaun Redhage's off-the-ball foul on Dillon Boucher - not seen by the referees _ understood to be one.
But that wasn't a factor for Beveridge. "Not at all. Absolutely no chance. Both teams played very physical defence, it's as simple as that. There was nothing illegal there from either team, that's why they have three referees. I'm not even going to enter into that.''
The Breakers have also mentioned the Wildcats' apparent liking for "flopping'' in order to win fouls. Beveridge responded: "Is that trying to influence referees or not? I don't know. It goes both ways, it always does.''
What's not in doubt is the fact both teams will be better in certain areas tonight.
"We did a tremendous job of rebounding the other day and a woeful job of shooting,'' Beveridge said. "Can we go one of 18 again from the three-point line? I certainly hope not. Are they only going to get four offensive rebounds? Probably not.''
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick