NBL Cup champion Perth Wildcats stun Adelaide 36ers

Newly-crowned NBL Cup champions Perth Wildcats demonstrated why they are on track to challenge for a third straight league title as they completed a remarkable 97-88 comeback victory over the Adelaide 36ers.

The Wildcats entered Sunday's last Cup competition match at John Cain Arena with top spot and $150,000 prizemoney already in their keeping but produced something special as they rallied from 26 points down.

The two-time NBL defending champions scored 19 unanswered points as they erased a 21-point halftime deficit to hit the front late in the third quarter, going on to outscore Adelaide 58-28 in the second half.

"I've been in the league as a coach or assistant coach for 17 years and I've never been a part of a bigger turnaround than that," coach Trevor Gleeson said after his side completed the largest comeback win of the season.

Perth opened the NBL Cup by ending Melbourne United's unbeaten start to the season with an 89-85 victory before going on to win seven of their eight games, a three-point loss to Brisbane their only blemish for the Melbourne-based tournament.

The Wildcats (9-4) now sit second behind only United (10-4) on the league ladder.

Gleeson felt his side benefited from playing a condensed schedule during their extended stay in Melbourne after being forced to relocate in early February due to COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia.

"The cup was great for us just to get into flow and rhythm with each other and some synergy out on the court that takes a longer period if you playing eight games when it could be over six or eight weeks," he said.

Bryce Cotton maintained his position as the league's leading scorer by torching the Sixers for a season-high 34 points while Todd Blanchfield (20 points) and John Mooney (17 points, 15 rebounds) also lifted in the second half.

Perth's second-half comeback overshadowed a strong debut performance from new Sixers import Brandon Paul (25 points, six three-pointers) and a near triple-double from Josh Giddey (14 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds).

"The defending champs came out in the second half and were more physical than us and showed us a toughness that we're trying to get to," coach Connor Henry said after his Sixers dropped their third game in a row.