Coach Joey Wright says his Adelaide 36ers won't start any rough stuff when their fierce rivalry with the Perth Wildcats continues in Saturday night's NBL semi-final.
But Wright says his players are willing to retaliate should the series opener in Adelaide become another heated affair between the arch foes.
"We're just not the type of guys that are overly aggressive, mentality-wise," Wright said on Friday.
"We're not going to throw any punches or elbows or anything like that.
"But if someone throws an elbow or a punch ... then we'll throw 'em back. We're not backing down by any means."
Adelaide and Perth meet in the opening match of the best-of-three semi-final series with a long history of animosity.
Just a month ago, in the latest chapter, their clash in Perth ended in a wild melee, resulting in suspensions for Adelaide captain Brendan Teys and Wildcat Dexter Kernich-Drew.
But Wright said his players' focus would be on ending Perth's bid for a third-consecutive championship.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said the style of basketball his team played was tough, but fair.
"We just compete hard. We don't go out there to hurt people," Gleeson said.
"We get out there and play as hard as we possibly can.
"Some people take that as physical; some people take that as tough and hard - and that's why we win championships."
The 36ers stumbled last season at the semi-final stage when beaten in three games by Illawarra, but Wright said times had changed.
"Last year at this time, we had five guys with colds, we had three guys with pretty major injuries and we kind of limped into the finals," he said.
"This year, we're a stronger team throughout. I think we have more insurance than we had last year.
"Last year, we needed three guys to play extremely well in order for us to be competitive. This year, we just need three guys but it can be three different guys."
The series pitches Adelaide's top-ranked attack against Perth's top-ranked defence.
"We want to spend a lot of time on what we do and how we play, and I don't plan on getting caught too much into what other teams do," Wright said.
"If we're at our best and we feel like they're at their best, we win.
"But we do have to slow them down and we do have to be at our best, which is easier said than done."
Game two will be played next Friday night in Perth, with a decider, if needed, scheduled for March 11 in Adelaide.
Australian Associated Press