PERTH coach Trevor Gleeson says defending champions New Zealand will be tough to beat even without their gun guard Corey Webster who is rolling the dice with the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA.

Webster has signed a non-guaranteed contract which gives him the chance to take part in the Pelicans' pre-season training program to try to claim one of two spots still left on the team's roster for the coming season.

The Wildcats have the advantage of meeting the Breakers at the back-end of an NBL away double, with the champs kicking off round two against the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong last night.

"New Zealand started the season without three key players, but they've got two of them, Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger, back," Gleeson told APN before the big home clash tomorrow night.

Perth beat the 36ers in Adelaide in round one in what Gleeson described as "a tough win".

"We knew it would be intense and that they would have their tails up after blowing New Zealand off the court in their first game," he said.

The Sydney Kings, impressive 87-63 winners over Cairns in round one without their marquee player Josh Childress, host Townsville tonight.

Round two matches (home teams first): Thurs: Sydney v Townsville; Fri: Melbourne v Adelaide, Perth v New Zealand; Sat: Sydney v Illawarra, Cairns v Townsville.

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