Damo the best-ever NBL defender: Gleeson

Defender Damian Martin (right) was the match-winner for Perth in their 99-95 NBL win over Adelaide.
Defender Damian Martin (right) was the match-winner for Perth in their 99-95 NBL win over Adelaide.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson has hailed Damian Martin as the greatest defender in the NBL's 41-year history.

The 35-year-old Wildcats captain scored only two points in his side's 99-95 win over the Adelaide 36ers on Friday night but was a match-winner at the other end.

The hustling Martin had three steals, countless deflections and a timely rejection of Sixers star Jerome Randle in the last minute.

The 13-year veteran has won the league's Best Defensive Player Award a record six times (the next best are Darnell Mee with five and Phil Smyth with four) and Gleeson reckons Martin deserves the all-time No.1 ranking.

"Without question," Gleeson said.

"He always gets the best imports, the imports are getting better, he's getting older, (but) he's still wiser.

I've seen him destroy guys defensively where they can't even bring the ball down the court.

"Damo's been doing that for years. He has a unique ability to have an influence on a game without the scoreboard pressure."

Gleeson said Martin had won the 2016 grand final for Perth while averaging just five points in the finals.

"He's a quality player for us, he's a leader, he's inspirational. We're lucky to have him," he said.

Adelaide coach Joey Wright agreed.

"Damo's knees are probably as good as mine and his ankles aren't much better but he's still out there, relentless and just not giving guys a break," Wright said.

"That's not a skill - that's coming from within."

Australian Associated Press