Prized recruit Vic Law has starred as NBL powerhouses Perth Wildcats ushered in a new era in style with a season-opening 85-73 victory over Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena.
The ex-Brisbane Bullets player scored 21 of his game-high 37 points in an electric first half on Friday as the Wildcats started their quest for a 36th straight playoff appearance in winning fashion.
"It felt good when you get in a flow and rhythm," said Law who hit 16 of 29 from the field.
"It was pure excitement and it felt like being back in college playing in front of a crowd like that."
It was an early statement with the short-handed Wildcats missing import Michael Frazier II and mainstays Todd Blanchfield and Mitch Norton, while centre Matt Hodgson hobbled off in the opening minutes with a calf injury.
Three-time MVP Bryce Cotton, who missed the playoffs last season due to a quadriceps injury, looked rusty early but showed glimpses of his best to finish with 16 points as the Wildcats celebrated coach Scott Morrison's NBL debut.
It heralded a new dawn for last season's runners-up after five-time champion coach Trevor Gleeson departed in the off-season to join NBA's Toronto Raptors as an assistant coach, while the franchise also underwent an ownership change.
The 36ers too had a makeover with CJ Bruton installed as coach as Adelaide attempt to rebound from last season's disappointment where they missed the playoffs for a third straight year.
Big men Daniel Johnson (22 points) and Cameron Bairstow (15 points) played well but they lacked support with Filipino teenager Kai Sotto, Emmanuel Malou, Sunday Dech and Hyrum Harris sidelined.
"Vic Law played great...he did what everyone in the NBL should know he can do," Bruton said.
The 36ers had been quietly confident of an upset after beating the Wildcats twice during an unbeaten pre-season but a pumped-up Law dominated the first quarter with 11 points, much to the delight of his new fans.
He hit the Wildcats' first bucket then nailed a three-pointer before capping his hot start with a spectacular two-handed dunk along the baseline.
The 36ers were in danger of being blown out early but star recruit Bairstow kept the visitors within striking distance at the first break.
They took advantage of a cold-shooting Wildcats to take a five-point lead in the second quarter before Cotton shrugged off a slow start to restore the home side's advantage at halftime.
Little separated the teams during a tight third quarter before Law once again heated up as the Wildcats ran over the top of a tiring 36ers in the final stanza.
Adelaide play Illawarra Hawks in their home opener on Sunday, while Perth host Cairns Taipans in the later fixture to end round 1.
Australian Associated Press