Perth’s hierarchy will move quickly to re-sign Kevin Lisch after the US import starred in the Wildcats’ 96-72 title-winning NBL triumph over Wollongong Hawks on Friday night.
But whether or not the Cats ink a new deal with Lisch, they will lose 36-year-old journeyman Martin Cattalini who retired after snaring his fourth Championship ring.
Lisch drained 29 points and nailed five of nine three-pointers, including one from three metres behind the arc on the three-quarter time buzzer, to lead Perth to the crushing victory in the deciding game three.
The 23-year-old, who scored 15 points in game one and 11 in game two, was named the grand final MVP and coach Rob Beveridge confirmed Lisch was a wanted man at Perth.
“He was everything I was looking for in terms of the work ethic, the attitude, the character,” he said.
“He’s still young and only going to improve.
“Kevin’s earned his right to continue for sure.”
But while Beveridge is confident of locking in his uncontracted players as he attempts to create a dynasty, Hawks coach Gordie McLeod is unsure whether he will be able to do the same.
“I would say it would be pretty hard for us to do that [keep this squad together] because with another team coming in I think a lot of players on the team this year have proven they can play at this level,” McLeod said.
“We only spent just over $700,000 on the cap this year so the guys aren’t playing for big bucks, they play from the heart.
“I think a lot of clubs will want to come and get some players but we’ll sit down with all our guys in the coming week and we’ll talk about the future.”
McLeod said he was confident the club, which was on the verge of folding less than 12 months ago, would continue into next season.
“We’ve done all we can do and now it’s a matter of waiting to see what decisions are made,” he said.
The Hawks led by 11 points early in the second quarter but Lisch and Damian Martin (17 points) turned the tide Perth’s way.
The home side erased the deficit in just four minutes before sealing the win with a dominant 31-15 third quarter.
Cattalini told his team-mates of his decision to retire on Thursday and Beveridge used the announcement as extra motivation.
“We spoke as a group that we wanted to do it for ourselves but said let’s do it for Martin as well,” Beveridge said.
“He’s an icon in the NBL … he was a huge part of our group and we’re going to miss him immensely.”
Beveridge, who almost left Australia after a horror run at the now-defunct Sydney Spirit last season when he was not even being paid at times, admitted his Wildcats unit had exceeded all expectations.
“When we put the team together it was about two or three years down the track,” he said.
“The way everything is run [at Perth] has put me in a position to be able to excel and I’m extremely thankful because I was at the bottom of the basketball doldrums, it was really bad.
“I was out of here and to be thrown a lifeline in Perth and to achieve this … it’s unbelievable.”