THE Perth Redbacks took on minor premiers Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium in their semi-final series and claimed an impressive win.
The Tigers started on fire, but the Redbacks worked back on top and in the end prevailed for the 85-81 victory.
Game 2 will now take place on Friday night at Belmont Oasis, with Willetton needing to win to force game 3 back at home on Saturday night.
The Redbacks came into the game without emerging star and NBL prospect Marshall Nelson due to a calf complaint, and then Shawn Redhage copped two tough calls early on.
The Tigers compounded that for the Redbacks by scoring the opening seven points.
Nic Cody soon joined Redhage in early foul trouble and Perth was able to work its way back into the contest with 13 of the next 16 points to take the lead on the back of a Michael Vigor basket before Redhage’s second foul.
Zac Gattorna made a significant impact in the place of Redhage, and then Jack Wagner made a solid contribution in the absence of Nelson to help the Redbacks to an impressive 28-18 quarter-time lead.
Michael Vigor had also been in foul trouble for the Redbacks
But the combination of him, Redhage and Lee Roberts was paying dividends to start the third quarter, as the lead for the visitors grew to as much as 16 points.
Willetton was never going to lie down without making a run and it was always destined to go down to the wire, and in the end fouling played a significant part.