Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson has started campaigning for Bryce Cotton to win his second NBL MVP award.
Cotton became the eighth American to play 100 games for the Wildcats on Friday night, and he was again on-song, top-scoring in their 26-point thumping of South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena.
The 97-71 victory came just hours after top-of-the-table Sydney Kings, lost in New Zealand, allowing the reigning champions to join the Kings on 15 wins.
Perth has played one extra game, but caught up some valuable percentage.
Cotton scored 25 points in just 28 minutes on court.
"He's the MVP of the league, without a question," Gleeson said.
"He's on the whiteboard of every team that comes here, to stop.
"What he put up with, gets double teamed, hit defensively all the time and he still produces under pressure... and he's unselfish.
"I was shocked last year (when he didn't win the MVP award)."
The majority of the first half was as scrappy as an NBL game gets.
Perth led 44-33 at the main break, but only after they dropped 10 points late in the half.
The blowing of the referee's whistle was the only consistent event happening at either end of the court.
Before the game had gone four minutes in the second quarter, both teams had collected their allowed five fouls for the term.
New Cat Miles Plumlee started in his first game for his new team and became an immediate crowd favourite despite scoring only two points.
Majok Majok had his back though, produced probably his best game in Perth colours, with an impressive 10-rebound, eight-point game coming from the bench.
No one in Phoenix colours could get going in offense.
They scored just 10 points in the first term at 20 per cent and John Roberson had seven of those. He was kept to just 11 by Mitch Norton.
New import Devondrick Walker got into the swing of things after half-time to finish with 16 points.
But Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell wasn't impressed with what his team dished out.
"Perth is a really good team; we played poorly," he said.
"There were things we could take away from the that game, particularly early. There were some defensive efforts that were much improved to where we have been.
"But our finishing around the rim was disgusting; embarrassing really."
Australian Associated Press