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Martin gives defensive masterclass in NBL

AAP logoAAP 23/10/2016 Michael Ramsey

Exhausted and sore after copping a hit to the face, Perth Wildcats captain Damian Martin did what he has always done and stepped up for his team.

The five-time NBL defensive player of the year was simply immense in the Wildcats' nailbiting 72-69 win over Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on Sunday.

Perth led by 12 points halfway through the final quarter but Melbourne cut the deficit back to three points, only for point guard Cedric Jackson to shoot an airball and deny United a chance at overtime.

It was a lacklustre final play for Melbourne but no surprise considering Martin had barely given Jackson an inch of space all night.

At 32, Martin continues to play like a man possessed on the defensive end.

The 186cm guard pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to go with his five assists and two steals, despite being almost a foot shorter than some of his opponents.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson lauded the work of his captain, who played for 34 minutes after backup point guard Jarrod Kenny was sidelined early with a groin injury.

"I thought Damo was outstanding there," Gleeson said.

"For him to step up to get 13 rebounds when we really needed that, that just shows you leadership out there.

"He got a good crack in the jaw (in) the first 30 seconds of the third. We were obviously concerned with that with how many whacks to the head he's had in the last couple of years.

"He's tough. One thing you know about Damo is he has to be legitimately in pain for him not to play. He'll play hurt and he did that today."

For Wildcats veteran Shawn Redhage, it was exactly the type of workmanlike attitude the 4-1 Wildcats need to deliver to stay top of the NBL ladder.

"We've been playing some great defence which is purely the reason why we're winning games, I think," he said.

"Our offence hasn't clicked 100 per cent. It's going to come, you can see there's signs but I like the way we're competing and playing on the defensive end at the moment."

The Wildcats travel to face Illawarra on Friday and are expected to welcome back forward Greg Hire, who missed Sunday's game for the birth of his first child.

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