PERTH Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson is unlikely to coach the NBL side on Friday night after making a mercy dash home to Warrnambool to be with his ill mother.
The former Warrnambool Mermaids mentor asked for “prayers for mum” after flying across the country on Saturday to be with his family.
His mother Margaret was awarded Warrnambool Basketball Incorporated life membership in July and is credited with picking the Mermaids’ moniker.
Yesterday basketball took a back seat as Gleeson and his close-knit family rallied around the popular ‘Mag’.
Gleeson, who signed a three-year deal with Perth in July, led the Wildcats to a thrilling three-point season-opening win against Adelaide 36ers at Perth Arena on Friday night.
The former Townsville Crocs and Melbourne Tigers coach returned to Warrnambool on Saturday and could miss the Wildcats’ round two clash against the Sydney Kings.
Gleeson said the Wildcats’ round one win was a solid start to his third NBL coaching stint.
Shawn Redhage dropped a match-winning two-pointer with 19 seconds to play, handing Perth a narrow win in front of 10,208 fans.
“There were so many new faces, we are still trying to iron out our chemistry and hopefully we’ll continue to get better,” Gleeson told The Standard.
“It wasn’t pretty but we got over the line.
“We’ve got some talent on the team. We have to come together and keep improving as a team.
“It was good for the guys to get the first game, especially with first-game jitters.”
American import James Ennis shone on debut.
Ennis scored 25 points and dazzled the Wildcats’ crowd with a two-handed slam dunk.
Gleeson said the 200-centimetre Miami Heat prospect was a coup for the NBL.
“They still have his rights and are able to call him back with our approval but they wanted him to play away for 12 months — he’s straight out of college — and get some experience under his belt,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to get better.”
The NBL and Basketball Australia had a de-merger prior to the 2013-14 season.
Gleeson said he expected the de-merger to enhance the NBL as a spectacle and bring more fans through the gates.
“Hopefully there are high flyers and it opens up a bit and there are more slam dunks,” he said.
“You don’t want a 50-point, 60-point game. You want people to say ‘did you see that dunk?’ or ‘did you see that play?’.”
Perth hosts Sydney in round two on Friday night.
The game will be broadcast live on OneHD at 9.30pm EST.