Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright expects a hostile NBL grand final series against bitter rivals Perth Wildcats.
“We have got two great teams, not a lot of love between us, and it will just make for a great finals series,” Wright told reporters on Wednesday.
“I cop it from the crowd in Perth every time. I have been hearing things from Perth for the last 10 years that I didn’t know about myself. So I’m sure I’ll get it again, as I always have.”
The 36ers advanced to the championship deciders with a 102-63 trouncing of the Melbourne Tigers in game three of their semi-final series on Tuesday night.
Minor premier Perth earned home court rights for next Monday night’s opening game of the grand final series, with the second leg in Adelaide on April 11. Game three, if required, will be in Perth on April 13.
Wright, in his first season in charge in Adelaide, has led a stunning revival of the 36ers, who finished bottom last season.
“There was some talent when we got here,” Wright said.
“The mix that we brought in and the belief that we created was just a work in progress.
“We just had to, as a coaching staff, just keep telling them the belief … it was every tactic you can to try and keep them believing in themselves.
“And at some point of the season they bought in. And once they bought in, I knew we would be okay.”
Adelaide’s acrimonious battles against Perth this season included a post-game dust-up in February which resulted in Wright, Wildcats’ assistant coach Adam Tatalovich and Perth import James Ennis all being charged by the NBL judiciary – though all avoided sanction.
Wright said Adelaide’s first grand final series in 12 years would be decided by defence.
Star playmaker Gary Ervin is back from suspension, having missed Tuesday night’s semi-final after being banned for one match for kneeing Melbourne’s Chris Goulding in the groin.
“We’re better with Gary, but we were definitely spurred on and we fed off his absence,” Wright said.
“He was definitely happy that we won and probably a little bit relieved … he apologised to the team and said that he felt like he let them down.”