Wagstaff has faith in peak form re­turn­ing

The West Australian - - SPORT - Craig O'Donoghue

Perth Wild­cats vet­eran Jesse Wagstaff be­lieves it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore his scor­ing woes turn around, de­spite not tak­ing a shot against Cairns last Fri­day night.

Wagstaff has scored only 12 points dur­ing Perth’s seven losses since the in­ter­na­tional break com­pared to 60 points from their seven games be­fore that.

But the four-time cham­pi­onship player, who brings up his 300th game against Ade­laide on Thurs­day night, said the slump hadn’t dented his con­fi­dence.

“I’m happy with how the shots are feel­ing, they’re just not go­ing in,” Wagstaff said.

“Some­times that hap­pens. Some­times ev­ery shot goes in.

“It’s just one of those things.

“Ev­ery­one’s putting in the work and I’m putting in the work. I’ll keep putting in the work and hope­fully things change.

“It’s more of an is­sue if you’re tak­ing the wrong shots.

“I didn’t put up a shot on the week­end, but that’s fine be­cause none of them pre­sented.

“If I’m tak­ing the wrong shots I’m more in­clined to worry.”

The Wild­cats are pre­par­ing for crit­i­cal games against the 36ers and Mel­bourne United.

De­spite Perth’s re­cent woes, vic­tory over Ade­laide at Ti­ta­nium Se­cu­rity Arena will give Perth a three-win break over the fifth-placed 36ers with seven games left, and ease the pres­sure ahead of Sun­day’s home game against United.

“We’re still con­fi­dent we can win the ti­tle,” Wagstaff said.

“We’ve ob­vi­ously had our strug­gles but we know we can play at that high level and com­pete with any­one.

“It’s just do­ing it for 40 min­utes con­sis­tently. We know it’s in us. There’s eight games left.

“I think we’re sit­ting third on the lad­der. I think a lot of peo­ple are writ­ing us off and that’s fine, but it’s any­one’s ball game.

“Our des­tiny is in our own hands.”

Wagstaff will be­come the sev­enth player to notch 300 games for the Wild­cats.

He joins Ricky Grace (482), Shawn Red­hage (380), James Craw­ford (371), An­drew Vla­hov (349), Eric Watterson (306) and Mike El­lis (302).

The 32-year-old said he never imag­ined hav­ing such a dis­tin­guished NBL ca­reer.

“I didn’t ex­pect to play bas­ket­ball, to be hon­est,” he said.

“When I was grow­ing up and go­ing over to the States, I didn’t think of bas­ket­ball as a ca­reer at the time. I was lucky enough to play that first sea­son with the Wild­cats and it’s been great ever since.”

“I didn’t put up a shot on the week­end, but that’s fine be­cause none of them pre­sented.” Jesse Wagstaff

Photo avail­able at west­pix.com.au Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

Jesse Wagstaff is set to play his 300th NBL game when the Perth Wild­cats take on Ade­laide 36ers on Thurs­day.

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