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The power of one Bryce

IN his first NBL game since winning the league's MVP award for the second time, Bryce Cotton tonight left no doubt who the competition's premier player is with a 42-point tour de force in Perth's 108-107 overtime win over Cairns.

In easily one of the greatest playoff games in the league's history, and up there with its greatest games of any description, Cotton's 10-of-19 3-pointers equalled John Rillie's record for the most triples in a finals match as the Wildcats clinched Game 1 in the best-of-three semi final series.

And if this one was anything to go by, the playoffs are going to be every bit as enthralling as the unprecedented regular season.

This had everything, including a couple of those very-specific-to-Damo moments where Wildcats captain Damian Martin simply wanted the ball more than his opponents, who thought they had it secured, only to find out otherwise.

Trailing 20-29 at the first break at the Jungle, Cairns produced a breath-taking 34-16 second period to go into halftime ahead 54-45, the home crowd in shock.

Scott Machado - the People's Choice MVP - was en route to 31 point haul, the most ever by a Cairns player in a finals match.

He also tantalised a triple-double, dishing nine assists and snaring eight rebounds, teammate DJ Newbill scoring 25 points at 75 per cent and Cam Oliver - the third member of the league's single-best import trio - pairing 19 points (at 70 per cent) with a colossal 18 rebounds.

But alongside Cotton, Nick Kay produced a masterful Perth performance, scoring 23 points at 58 per cent, knocking down 5-of-6 threes, while grabbing nine rebounds, handing out six assists and stealing the ball three times.

Just as Cairns threatened to control this game, Jesse Wagstaff rolled out two monster 3-point baskets but it was Kay, left wide open outside the arc, who stuck the triple which tied it at 93-93 to send the game to overtime.

That's how close the Taipans were as both teams traded huge basket after unbelievable basket, Machado's 3-point banker certainly a shot to remember.

In the extension, Cotton was simply unconscious but the Taipans continued to come at the Wildcats.

Finally the MVP's 10th 3-point make with 1:03 remaining in overtime sent the 10,858 home fans into delirium, the lead at 104-101. Newbill trimmed it back to 103-104 with a tough basket, then Kay showed ice-water in his veins by knocking down two free throws for 106-103.

Oliver pegged it back to 105-106 and this time Wagstaff had to stare down two free throws for 108-105.

Machado missed the 3-pointer for the tie but ran down his rebound and popped it in before the siren, Perth 108-107 ahead and heading into Cairns with a 1-0 series lead.

2 v 3:

(Cotton 42, Kay 23, Norton 12, Wagstaff 10; Kay 9 rebs; Kay, Cotton 6 assts) d CAIRNS TAIPANS 107 (Machado 31, Newbill 25, Oliver 19, Jawai 10; Oliver 18 rebs; Machado 9 assts) in overtime {93-93} at The Jungle, RAC Arena. Crowd: 10,858
Game 2: Sunday, March 1 – Cairns Convention Centre, 5pm AEDT / 4pm local
Game 3 (If Req): Thursday, March 5 - RAC Arena, 9:30pm AEDT / 6:30pm local
1 v 4:
Game 1:
Saturday, February 29 – Qudos Bank Arena, 7:30pm AEDT / 7:30pm local
Game 2: Monday, March 2 – Melbourne Arena, 7:30pm AEDT / 7:30pm local
Game 3 (If Req): Thursday, March 5 – Qudos Bank Arena, 7:30pm AEDT / 7:30pm local

Feb 28

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