NBL finals cancelled, Wildcats stake claim

Murray Wenzel
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NBL FINALS KINGS WILDCATS

The Wildcats claim they deserve the NBL title after their grand final series with Sydney was canned

Perth are adamant they should be crowned NBL champions after the league cancelled the grand final series with the Wildcats just one win shy of a 10th title.

The NBL on Tuesday made the call to cancel the final two games of the five-game series with the Wildcats leading minor premiers Sydney 2-1.

The NBL will determine which club, if any, is handed the trophy in the next 48 hours.

The decision was made after the Kings declared their intentions to not fly to Perth on Wednesday, ahead of Friday's fourth game, because of the threat posed by the coronavirus.

While Kings coach Will Weaver claimed the seriousness of the health threat meant "it couldn't matter less" who won, his Wildcats opposite Trevor Gleeson was more forthright.

"It's devastation. You work for something for nine months and you're that close," he said.

"It's always the scoreboard tells the story ... if you're 150 laps into Bathurst and it's called off who wins that?

"If it's 2-1 in the tennis match whoever leads is always given (the win).

"We were ready to play game four and ready for game five in Sydney if needed."

Wildcats chief executive Troy Georgiu insinuated the Kings had effectively conceded defeat by refusing to conclude the series.

"The league put forward a range of options to complete this series ahead of the scheduled dates," he said.

"This included reducing the grand final to a three-game series, or playing game four on Wednesday instead of Friday.

"Chartered flights were also discussed. It's our understanding the Kings turned down these options.

"While the club takes seriously the importance of player and community welfare, we believe there was a safe and reasonable way for the 2020 NBL Finals to have reached a resolution."

The Kings' decision came as Western Australian health experts called for a state border closure, the club confirming on Tuesday it was a move made with the "well-being of society" in mind.

"Not to be flippant, but it couldn't matter less to us in the scheme of things," Weaver said when asked about the process of deciding a champion.

"The relevance of the competition is so greatly diminished by this.

"Personally I would be willing to risk a lot to have the chance to compete and win the championship and know that's the view of any of our players.

"But I'm proud that the decision was made to reflect the fact our competitive desires are well and truly secondary."

Weavers' Kings became the first team to lead the league from the first to last regular-season round this season, but Perth sit just one game from their 10th NBL title.

All three games of the final series have gone the way of the visiting team, with the last two played in empty stadiums.

It is a bizarre conclusion to arguably the league's most successful season that drew record crowds both in stadiums and online.