Basketball: Bullets mark comeback game in style

Jermaine Beal looks to take on the defence against the Perth Wildcats. Photo / Getty Images
Jermaine Beal looks to take on the defence against the Perth Wildcats. Photo / Getty Images

The Brisbane Bullets have marked their NBL return in style with a stirring 72-65 come-from-behind victory over the Perth Wildcats in the opening fixture of the 2016/17 season.

Brisbane's NBL comeback party after an eight-year hiatus appeared destined for defeat at half-time with the Bullets trailing by 10 points, until a rousing third-quarter fightback had the home team ahead by five heading into the final period.

The Bullets scored 19 unanswered points during the third term which ultimately proved the catalyst for their victory in front of over 7,000 enthusiastic fans.

The Brisbane Entertainment Centre crowd swelled in anticipation prior to tip off however they were soon silenced by a more experienced Wildcats outfit.

The Bullets helped the Wildcats' cause as they struggled for offensive cohesion during the first quarter, shooting at 27 percent from the floor to trail 20-9 at the first break.

Brisbane responded and went on a 9-2 run led by Torrey Craig to narrow the deficit to four points midway through the second quarter.

However, Perth maintained their pressure in offence to lead by 10 at half-time largely thanks to Iowa State product Jameel McKay.

Mostly quiet in the first half, Brisbane import Jermaine Beal found his radar after the main break and drained a three to kick the home side in gear.

Brisbane's third-quarter barrage saw the home team outscore the visitors by 15 points to open up a 59-54 lead heading into the final stretch.

Momentum continued to flow in Brisbane's favour during the fourth quarter and they held their advantage until the final siren to gift their patient fans their first victory since February 2008.

Brisbane Coach Andrej Lemanis put the Bullets' slow start down to a case of anxiety.

"I thought we were anxious at the start of the game and understandably so being the first game back," Lemanis said.

"Our offence was clunky and not where we wanted it to be at the start of the game.

"We worked our way in and started to find our rhythm in lots of areas."

While the Bullets are building a new basketball identity, Perth coach Trevor Gleeson says that the Wildcats still need to find theirs after blowing 12-point lead midway through the third quarter.

"Our team still needs to find our identity, we had an opportunity to put the game away in the third quarter but we weren't tough enough and hard enough," Gleeson said.

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