Defending champions Perth Wildcats have locked in a finals berth for a staggering 35th straight NBL season, keeping their minor premiership hopes alive with an 89-78 win over Cairns Taipans.
Perth secured a playoff finish with six regular season games still to play after cruising to a 22-8 win-loss tally with their eighth victory in 11 games, remaining in sight of ladder leaders Melbourne United (23-7).
The second-placed Wildcats were kept honest by cellar-dwellers Cairns (7-23) at Cairns Pop-Up Arena but reigning NBL MVP Bryce Cotton stood tall with a game high 24 points including 4-5 three point shooting as the hosts suffered their fifth straight loss.
"It is a great effort to do that with six games to go," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said after their finals campaign was confirmed.
"We have had a lot of change from last year, hats off to the guys to put the team in front of their self interest.
"I am really happy to be able to tick that box and be in the playoffs for another year.
"If you look at our group I think we have one starter from last year in Bryce, I think we have lost everyone else.
"It is a totally new group. The guys have really done a good job buying in, hopefully we can keep on improving."
Leading 45-44 at halftime and with scores locked up at 65-all at the final interval, Perth finished strongly as Gleeson cleverly managed his troops' court time amid a tough schedule.
John Mooney added a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Todd Blanchfield had 11 points and Mitch Norton 10 points.
Perth are in the middle of a challenging stretch, playing their third game in five days with a game against the Brisbane Bullets in Brisbane on Wednesday still to come but Gleeson said his side would keep their eyes on the prize.
"We are always looking at top two, we want that home court advantage," he said.
"If it presents itself we would like to challenge for it but there are still six games to go.
"We don't want to get in front of ourselves too much. We just want to keep getting better - the ladder will work itself out."
Cairns threw caution to the wind and came out swinging against the Wildcats in a desperate bid to claim their first win since April 23 and first victory over Perth since game two of last season's semi-final series.
But the Taipans were blown away in the final quarter despite the efforts of big man Nate Jawai (20 points, nine rebounds) and classy import Scott Machado (17 points, eight assists).