We don't hate 36ers: Wildcats NBL skipper

Perth and Adelaide players were involved in a melee during their NBL round 17 game.
Perth and Adelaide players were involved in a melee during their NBL round 17 game.

Perth Wildcats captain Damian Martin insists his team don't hate the Adelaide 36ers but he expects there to be plenty of niggle during their NBL semi-final series.

Wildcats and 36ers players have clashed heavily in recent seasons and tempers are set to be tested when their three-game finals series starts in Adelaide on Saturday.

Earlier this month, a melee between the two sides in the dying seconds of a game at Perth Arena resulted in Wildcats player Dexter Kernich-Drew and 36ers captain Brendan Teys copping suspensions.

And it's not just the players who have seen red in the past.

In 2014, Adelaide coach coach Joey Wright was charged by the NBL with striking Perth assistant coach Adam Tatalovich in an ugly post-match display.

Wright was later found not guilty.

The rivalry between the two clubs has become intense.

But Martin said the rivalry was based more around the respect both clubs shared for each other, rather than hate.

"It's funny, because with the Australian team you get to know some of the Adelaide boys, and vice-versa," Martin said.

"You generally like the guys you get to meet. One of the things I do respect is how hard they play.

"There's never a possession Mitch Creek takes off, or Nathan Sobey."

Martin said his players know not to let their tempers get the better of them when things do become heated against Adelaide.

"It's about being there, part of your brotherhood, standing up for your teammate, but also knowing there's bigger things on the line than winning a push-and-shove match," Martin said.

"The last thing you want to be concerned with is the niggling stuff.

"Finals basketball is usually played with a bit more physicality. There's a lot more on the line.

"And if you're not mentally tough enough to ignore all that and stick to your game plan, then you get carried away, and it could mean six, eight, 10 points, or some bad fouls here or there."

Martin has battled an ankle injury since round three this season.

But the recent bye week did him the world of good.

The 33-year-old had some cortisone injections and was in a moon boot for several days, allowing his ankle to settle down.

"The ankle's way more flexible now," Martin, who is aiming to guide Perth to a third straight title, said.

"So some of the movements I wasn't able to do due to some swelling, I can now go out there and be a lot more mobile."

Australian Associated Press