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Prather gets big rap from Perth NBL coach

AAP logoAAP 2/01/2017 Adrian Warren

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson rates his swingman Casey Pather as one of the NBL's top three players and hopes to have his latest import in action for a vital road trip.

A crucial week looms for the sixth-placed defending champion Wildcats (8-9), with road matches against the two teams immediately above them.

They play fourth-placed Sydney (11-10) on Saturday and at fifth-placed Brisbane (9-10) next Monday.

Recent NBA guard Bryce Cotton is the player Perth are believed to have lined up to replace Jaron Johnson, after the American was axed by the Wildcats for the second time this season.

Gleeson said on Monday he hoped to have his new import in harness for the road trip, but couldn't confirm it was Cotton until the player was cleared by the league.

Aiming to make the finals for a 31st straight year, Perth were on the bottom of the eight-team ladder before last Saturday's win in Wollongong.

With key players Damian Martin and Matt Knight missing plenty of matches through injury and issues with an import spot, 24-year-old Prather has become Perth's main man.

The athletic American has gone from averaging 16.3 points in Perth's championship-winning 2015-16 campaign to 21.2 points this season, the third highest in the league.

"He'd have to be in the top three (players in the NBL)," Gleeson told AAP.

"He's been very consistent, getting a lot of extra attention with us probably lacking another scorer with him.

"He's producing every week, he's been very reliable."

A new import apart, Perth are set to be bolstered by the anticipated return in mid-January of their talismanic guard and leader Martin.

"We've never got to have a full roster this year as yet, but Damo is coming back shortly and the guys have been working really hard," Gleeson said

"We just want to get healthy and get everyone back on the court.

"We've been under the pump a little bit with injuries and hopefully we can come home and give this thing a good shake."

Gleeson rated the current season as the toughest in his long association with the competition.

"Normally around Christmas time a couple of teams drop off with the drama they have, or the chemistry hasn't been right," Gleeson said.

"But the influx of quality players in this league, having the rule changed to allow three imports, we certainly have some parity out there between the teams."

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