Tag: Chris Goulding

Perth ends Melbourne’s winning streak thanks to dominant second quarter

PERTH Wildcats put a stop to Melbourne United’s winning streak clinching a 13-point victory over the top of the table side away from home. United came to play in the opening quarter, but once the Wildcats found their groove they were hard to stop outscoring their opponents 70 points to 50 in the following three quarters. The win sends a clear warning shot to the rest of the competition, with Perth proving once again what they are capable of doing against a-class talent.

Perth were quick to pile on the scoreboard pressure with John Mooney and Mitch Norton combining seamlessly to steal the lead albeit by one point (8-7). But with a timeout called from United head coach the momentum switched in the opening term as play well and truly favoured the home side as they looked to notch up their 12th consecutive win. United came out with a real pep in their step attacking the basket to go on seven point straight scoring spree with captain Chris Goulding inserting himself in the action with a handy triple.

Establishing a seven-point lead at the break, United were set upon as the Wildcats rallied the troops. Perth were clearly unhappy with the start as they came out with a point to prove sinking nine points straight to steal the lead and claim the ascendancy. Kevin White made his presence felt with a triple and while United worked gallantly to stay in touch with Perth through the likes of Jo Lual-Acuil and the returning Jock Landale, the visitors simply could not be stopped. After a well-disciplined start to the game, United provided a couple of opportunities for Perth to convert from the charity stripe and that they did as they poured on 34 points including a 12-point run to take a 10-point lead at the main break.

The third quarter continued down much of the same route as Perth nailed the first four points of the game to take away and control United had. Although Bryce Cotton had been relatively quiet for the night, he decided it was his time to shine sinking a couple of triples and with support from the likes of Todd Blanchfield and Mooney the Wildcats once again piled on the points this time with a 16 points to six run. The lead blew out to as much as 19 points throughout the term before United worked their way back into the contest. With the win slipping through their fingers the home side threw everything they had at Perth as Yudai Baba got busy to reduce the deficit to 10 points.

With it all to play for in the final stanza, Scotty Hopson stepped up to the plate landing a much needed free throw to trail by nine points. On the edge of a comeback Perth re-kindled their earlier form to control the play and tempo of the game. Mooney was the main-man for the Wildcats as he continuously dragged his side out of the mess and enabled them to forge forward and steal the win. As the quarter went on the momentum well and truly shifted back in favour of the Wildcats as they not only skipped away to a 13-point margin but so too secured the win.

As a whole shooting accuracy seemed to be a problem for both sides, but Perth’s ability convert off the rebound and to nail the second chance points proved to be the difference between the two side.

It was a tough day at the office for the United as only three players managed to hit double-digits when it came to points as Landale top-scored with 11. However, in his debut game back he ran into some foul trouble and was unable to have a huge impact on the game. Goulding struggled for accuracy sitting at a mere 22 per cent from the field for his 10 points while Baba slotted 10 points of his own. Lual-Acuil made a menace of himself off the boards with 10 rebounds and chimed in with a handy eight points as Sam McDaniel also contributed eight points and five assists of his own.

For Perth it was the effort of Mooney that stood head and shoulders above the rest as he recorded another double-double thanks to his 30 points and 14 rebounds in a phenomenal showing. Cotton piled on 16 points despite being inaccurate both from the field and down town but made up for it with his crafty 10 dimes. Blanchfield was next best with nine points as Norton recorded eight points in his 27 minutes on court.

United make it 11 straight with second half surge against Kings

MELBOURNE United have extended their remarkable winning streak with a victory over an undermanned Sydney Kings side at John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Kings looked dangerously close to causing the unlikeliest of upsets when they led by seven points midway through the third quarter, but the top of the table United side proved too strong as they put the foot down for the remainder of the game to cruise to a 25-point win.

Heading into the game this looked likely to be a one-sided affair, with the Kings missing plenty of troops such as Didi Louzada and rookie sensation DJ Vasiljevic. Melbourne United were without starting center Jock Landale but their form in their last 10 games suggested they would be able to cruise through for a comfortable victory. However, the Kings did not see it this way. Led by former United star Casper Ware and his three first quarter triples, the Kings shot out to a 31-20 lead at the end of the first as Melbourne suddenly found themselves on the canvas in what was supposed to be an easy win. United responded well in the second quarter, fighting back to take the lead themselves. They were superbly led by veteran Chris Goulding, who scored 16 points in the first half to keep his side in the match with his red-hot shooting. Suddenly, Melbourne led by six points at the main break and Sydney were struggling to maintain the intensity and efficiency that gave them ascendancy in the first quarter.

The third quarter began awfully similar to the first, with the Kings bursting out of the gates on a 15-2 run which saw them lead by seven points halfway through the quarter. As expected, Melbourne rallied, and it was once again Goulding who led by example to hit crucial baskets for his team to see them regain a five-point lead heading into the final term. The Kings were still in reach, but ultimately ran out of legs against a United side that was simply stronger. Melbourne dominated the final term, outscoring Sydney 33-13 to run away with an 11th consecutive win, which saw them keep top spot on the ladder with only a handful of rounds left in the season.

For Melbourne, Goulding was fantastic as previously mentioned, keeping his side within reach in the first half when the game could have been blown wide open. Crisis creates opportunity and with their starting center sidelined, Jo Lual-Acuil stepped up in a big way, pouring in 20 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two assists. It was a statement game from the big man and is sure to have gotten the attention of his coaches. For the Kings, Ware did as expected and led his side offensively, finishing the game with 25 points and five three pointers. He had some nice help from Daniel Kickert, who finished with 13 points off the bench to provide a much-needed spark.

Melbourne’s current winning streak sets up a mouth-watering clash against the second placed Perth Wildcats on Wednesday night, which should make for excellent viewing. The Kings will have the opportunity to bounce back against the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday, in a match-up that should have a serious effect on the top four.

United make franchise history with 10 consecutive wins

MELBOURNE United are flying along extremely nicely having notched up their tenth consecutive win last night, defeating the New Zealand Breakers (90-76). In their first of three games of the round, United came out with a point to prove early and did just that against a flailing Breakers outfit, who despite showing glimpses of magic have struggled for continuity. However the win will be very little consolation if they are without Jock Landale who went down early on in the piece, and has been a significant piece of the puzzle in season 2021.

With Landale gone in the opening minutes of the game it was up to the players around him to pull their socks up and deliver, and that they did with Jo Lual-Acuil and Scotty Hopson relishing the added responsibility. But the efforts of captain, Chris Goulding really stole the show as he drained a whopping 14 points in the first six minutes of the game to well and truly set the tone of the match. Inspired by a home crowd, Melbourne United took control of the game and continued to push the Breakers to their limits as they skipped out to a nine point lead at quarter time.

It was a much tighter second quarter as reflected through the quarter scores as Melbourne slotted 15 points to 14 credit to an improved effort from the Breakers. Goulding started to cool off, but that only paved the way for Lual-Acuil to get busy as he kept the scoreboard ticking over. Hitting double-figures before half time Lual-Acuil proved he was here to play and provided a steady head for United despite the constant attacking forays from the Breakers as they attempted to eat into the margin. Colton Iverson worked hard to get New Zealand back into the game landing some crucial free-throws but it was somewhat of a one-man show on the scoring front.

The Breakers sent out warning shots in the third quarter as they started to rally across the court with William McDowell-White getting busy and slicing the deficit to a mere four points. But once again the experience and class of Hopson and Lual-Acuil shone through as they hit the scoreboard to re-establish that handy buffer. Playing with confidence and belief United were able to weave the ball down the court with ease while also nullifying the likes of Corey Webster and Finn Delany who had been in scintillating form heading into the round.

With the lead getting out to as much as 20 points one stage during the final quarter, the Breakers dug in deep to deny United’s offence space and inflict pain up the other end as they attacked the rim. They pressured United every step of the way putting up 22 points to 24 as they cut the margin to 14 at the final buzzer.

Although the Breakers did not get the win it was a special night for captain Tom Abercrombie who surpassed all-time game leader Mika Vukona running out for his 355th game and notching up 11 points. Webster was the most prominent scorer out on court for the Breakers producing 20 points at 50 per cent from the field, along with two rebounds, six assists and three steals. McDowell-White has settled in nicely to the Breakers outfit sinking 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Delany was down on his usual production levels with nine points and five turnovers. Iverson got busy with his nine points and seven rebounds but it was not enough.

When looking at United, the points were relatively evenly shared between their three main prongs in Lual-Acuil, Hopson and Goulding. After impressing in the opening term, Goulding quietened down to finish with 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. Hopson rekindled his form with a strong showing of 25 points in just under 20 minutes, highlighting just how impactful he can be when on song. Lual-Acuil fell just short of a double-double thanks to his 23 points and nine rebound effort while Mitch McCarron provided good support with his six points, two rebounds and three assists.

The win is a franchise best, with the side running hot on 10 wins straight and will be looking to continue that momentum heading into their clash against Sydney while the Breakers are faced with another challenge in the second placed Perth Wildcats.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 16 preview: United to triple up over the weekend

IT is going to be a mammoth round of basketball for Melbourne United as they take the court three times across Round 16 of the National Basketball League (NBL). A win, loss or draw from the top of the table side could alter the ladder with Perth Wildcats hot on their heels as the season winds down. The Hawks, Phoenix and Kings are the only sides to take the court once this round with the rest all making multiple appearances throughout the round.

Melbourne United vs. New Zealand Breakers
Wednesday, April 28 @7:30pm

Melbourne United are coming in hot boasting a nine game winning streak and will be hoping to maintain that streak with a win over the Breakers. New Zealand on the other hand are coming in off a strong win against a marginally higher opponent and therefore will be full of belief. That being said the Breakers will well and truly be the underdogs heading into the clash given they are facing off against the top of the table United who have showcased their class and level of depth to win under all sorts of pressure.

Untied have a plethora of options when it comes to scoring with Jock Landale and Chris Goulding arguably the power duo for the side. the duo produce an average of 16.46 and 15.72 points a game while the likes of Mitch McCarron and Scotty Hopson are other key facilitators with the latter hoping to improve his output after a quiet performance last game. Finn Delany is coming off an inspired effort in Round 15 and will be hoping to keep the good times rolling while Corey Webster is another livewire for the trans-Tasman side producing 15.56 points each time he steps out on court. Levi Randolph is starting to find his feet while Tom Abercrombie is the gift that keeps on giving but will need to be on his a-game if the Breakers are to win.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Brisbane Bullets
Thursday, April 29 @7:30pm

It has been an up and down season to say the least for both sides with the Phoenix currently holding onto fourth spot on the ladder after dropping from third while the Bullets sit just outside the top four in sixth with 10 wins to their name. this clash will bring plenty of excitement and intensity as South East Melbourne look to remain inside the top four and the Bullets hope to stay in touch to keep their finals hopes alive.

With Mitch Creek at the helm and the likes of Keifer Sykes and Ryan Broekhoff also in the side, the Phoenix have the star power to dominate just need to find that level of consistency. Kyle Adnam has emerged as a real game changer and will be hoping to bring that level of intensity in this clash averaging 13 points and 3.88 assists a game. If Ben Moore and Yannick Wetzell are also able to get off the leash then it could spell trouble for the Bullets. Nathan Sobey has been electric for the Bullets, leading from the front with his 22.52 point average while Lamar Patterson has made a splash since defecting from the Breakers producing 11 points 5.5 rebounds a game. Matthew Hodgson and Anthony Drmic will need to get busy if they are to topple the Phoenix.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Perth Wildcats
Saturday, May 1 @5:30pm

The Breakers will take to the court for the second time in as many days and their job does not get any easier coming up against the second placed Perth Wildcats. It will be a tight turnaround for New Zealand having played on Wednesday night and the Wildcats will be hoping to capitalise on the fatiguing and lower placed side. Perth have struggled for continuity in the last couple of games and will be eager to iron out any kinks in their armour and put out a complete performance.

Bryce Cotton is the go-to man for the Wildcats averaging a competition high 24.29 points a game while teammate John Mooney is the other to keep an eye out for with his double-double average of 16.96 points and 12.04 rebounds. Todd Blanchfield, Jesse Wagstaff and Mitchell Norton also provide great support and will be hoping to fire in their contest against the Breakers. While for New Zealand it will be the old firm in Webster and Delany that will need to get going.

Adelaide 36ers vs. Brisbane Bullets
Saturday, May 1 @8:00pm

It has been a rough couple of weeks for the 36ers who despite regaining a couple of their stars in Tony Crocker and Isaac Humphries have struggled to find their groove. However up against the Bullets who have also been relatively inconsistent this could be their time to shine and claim a much needed win. Both sides sit on 10 wins apiece, with the win-loss status dependent on Brisbane’s result earlier in the round making for an exciting battle.

Josh Giddey took the competition by storm recording a triple double and becoming the youngest Australian in the league to do so. With his production levels high he will be hoping to replicate these odds while the return of Isaac Humphries is exciting and will provide additional scoring options for the 36ers. Daniel Johnson averages 20.65 points and 7.04 rebounds while Tony Crocker is also a livewire for Adelaide.

Melbourne United vs. Sydney Kings
Sunday, May 2 @3:00pm

In their second game for the round, expect Melbourne United to come out with a real sense of urgency and use their bench depth to get on top of the Kings. However Sydney have a point to prove and will be out to improve their standings on the ladder to create some ladder separation and secure themselves in third. The two sides have a rich history so expect plenty of fireworks as they fight it out for bragging rights, keeping in mind that United have to front up for their third game latter this round while the Kings can afford to leave nothing in the tank as this is their sole outing.

Boasting the likes of Casper Ware, United will have their work cut out when it comes to nullifying his explosiveness averaging 19.19 points a game while teammate Jarrell Martin is the other handful given his capacity to score with ease averaging 17. 11 points and 6.89 rebounds a match. With no Dejan Vasiljevic and Didi Louzada the Kings will be looking for support from Jordan Hunter and Brad Newley to overcome Melbourne United who will be seeking assistance from the likes of Yudai Baba and Jo Lual-Acuil.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Illawarra Hawks
Monday, May 3 @7:30pm

Monday nights clash will be the Hawks’ first and last for the round while it is a different story for the Breakers who will be gearing up for their third. the Hawks dropped out of the top four, currently sitting two games shy but a win here keeps them within striking distance as the season approaches the backend. For the Breakers their inconsistency and poor start to the season hurt them and after two games against top two opposition have their work cut out for them here against the fifth placed Hawks.

The combination of Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup has worked wonders for the Hawks with the pair able to find the basket and keep the scoreboard ticking over thanks to their respective averages of 19.56 points and 14.68 points. Cameron Bairstow is one who has flown under the radar this season as has Sam Froling but if the two can get busy then it could spell danger for the Breakers. In their sole game for the round expect Justin Simon to also get busy and ply his trade while the Breakers look to the experience of Abercrombie to lead from the front.

Adelaide 36ers vs. Cairns Taipans
Tuesday, May 4 @7:30pm

A battle of the bottom sides commences on Tuesday night as the Adelaide 36ers go head-to-head with the Cairns Taipans. The Taipans clash with the Phoenix was cancelled meaning the side will be well rested heading into their match against Adelaide. Neither side have been in arguably great form holding seventh and ninth place respectively but that does not mean it won’t be a cracking game of basketball as they look to find a winning edge.

With no more Cameron Oliver it is up to Scott Machado to carry the load and lead from the front in what is set to be a gruelling match. Machado averages 16.36 points, 3.52 rebounds and 7.12 assists but will need support from the likes of Majok Deng and Kouat Noi if they are to challenge the Adelaide 36ers.

Melbourne United vs. Perth Wildcats
Wednesday, May 5 @7:30pm  

A top two clash between Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats is a fitting way to end Round 16 as the two sides battle it out for more than bragging rights but so too ladder position. In saying that, United will have played one more game than their counterparts meaning it will be battle of which team can outlast the other and the level of depth both sides have. If the wildcats are able to capitalise on the fatigued United outfit it will go a long way in securing them the win. However Melbourne do not give up easily and with finals surely approaching expect them to leave nothing to chance.

Boasting the likes of Goulding and Landale the Wildcats will be hoping to shut down their signature style of play and reduce their opportunities to attack the rim. Expect Lual-Acuil to be big off the boards while McCarron and Hopson are lethal with ball in hand. For the Wildcats there is no denying that Cotton and Mooney are the game changers but will need support from Blanchfield if they are to get over the top.

United keep the good times rolling with ninth straight win

MELBOURNE United kept their winning streak going, notching up their ninth straight victory after defeating the Adelaide 36ers in style last night (92-78). It was a comprehensive performance by the ladder leaders who got the jump on their opponents early but really dazzled in the final term to pile on the scoreboard pain.

The Adelaide 36ers welcomed back the services of injured star Isaac Humphries who had been out of action for two months. However it took a while for Humphries to get back into the groove of things. He was not the only one welcomed back after injury with Tony Crocker also finding his way back into the side.

The first term was dictated by United as their offensive nous came to the fore, able to consistently open up the 36ers’ defence and pile on the pressure. Chris Goulding was proving to be crafty with ball in hand providing opportunities for Mason Peatling to attack the basket and give their side the competitive edge heading into the break. The 36ers however did not lie down, showcasing their strength on the rebound while Brandon Paul flexed his muscles delivering eight points in the opening term alone. In saying that, United still held a handy six point buffer at the first break despite the efforts of Adelaide.

There was a change in intensity in the second term, as the 36ers knuckled down and got busy. Adelaide came out with a point to prove steadily eating into the margin, posting 25 points to 20 in the term inspired once again by the services of Paul. Jock Landale looked to keep United in front with teammate Jo Lual-Acuil also displaying his class out on court with some big defensive plays. At half time only one point separated the two sides, testament to the increased pressure from Adelaide.

Scoring somewhat dried up in the third with both sides remaining in the teens when it came to points scored. Melbourne recaptured some of their earlier dominance, nullifying the speed and transition of Adelaide to create some much needed scoreboard separation. The star power of Landale and Paul was on full display throughout the third as the pair impressed for their respective sides with their shooting prowess.

It all came down to the final term and that is where Melbourne United pulled out the big guns. Their level of depth and all-round confidence was paramount as they out worked and outmuscled Adelaide to edge ahead bit by bit. The introduction of David Barlow proved to be the exact spark the side needed as the 37-year-old showed that age is just a number worrying the scoreboard knocking back consecutive threes and an impressive dunk to wow fans. He exploded out of the blocks as his energy filtered through to his teammates with Mitch McCarron also coming up big as the scoreboard ticked down. Melbourne had complete and utter control of the final term once again proving why they sit atop of the ladder with their ability to grind out games and win in tricky situations.

It was a night to remember for McCarron who collected a season high 21 points. But it did not stop there as he also reeled in two rebounds, five assists and five steals in a comprehensive performance by the guard. in fact the points were well shared amongst a number of players with four others reaching double digits. The next best was Landale who produced 19 points in his 30 minutes on court while also amassing 10 rebounds. Both Goulding and Lual-Acuil managed 13 points apiece with the latte feasting off the boards thanks to his 10 rebounds. Peatling was the other to reach double-digits with 11 points to his name but also got busy in offence with five rebounds.

Paul was the leading points scorer for the 36ers, sinking 20 for the game at 53 per cent from the field. In his 300th game, Daniel Johnson had another strong outing draining 16 points while also providing a helping hand off the boards with nine rebounds. Youngster Josh Giddey continued to ply his trade thanks to his 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists just falling short of a triple double while Sunday Dech made his presence felt thanks to his 12 points. In his return from injury, Humphries slotted two points and managed five rebounds as Crocker also produced five points.

2021 NBL Round 15 preview: Phoenix and Kings open blockbuster round

ROUND 15 of the National Basketball League (NBL) kicks off on Thursday night with the Phoenix and Kings opening the account. Melbourne United will be keen to hold onto top spot on the ladder while Perth is hot on their heels.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, April 22 @7:30pm

The Phoenix and Kings will lock horns for the second time in as many weeks with the Phoenix hoping to reverse their fortunes this time around. The two sides have had a chequered season so far registering three wins from their past five outings. South East Melbourne are coming into the clash on the back of consecutive losses while the Kings have strung together two wins and will be eager to make it three straight.

Mitch Creek is still the go-to man for the Phoenix averaging 20 points a game while also reeling in 7.09 rebounds and 3.27 assists each time he steps out on court. Kyle Adnam has continued his hot run of form boasting an average of 13.04 points while the return of Keifer Sykes has been important with the guard managing 12.93 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.47 assists. Ben Moore is somewhat of an unsung hero for the Phoenix and will need to be at his damaging best to influence the outcome while the growing confidence of Cameron Gliddon and Yannick Wetzell is starting to come to the fore. Casper Ware was at his dominant best last week with a staggering 40 points and will be wanting to replicate those efforts against a classy Phoenix side. If Ware can get busy and receive support from Jarrell Martin who averages 17.88 points and 6.94 rebounds and Jordan Hunter (7.38 points and 5.83 rebounds) then South East Melbourne could be in real trouble given their capacity to score easily. However they will be without the services of Didi Louzada given his decision to join the New Orlean Pelicans in the NBA.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, April 23 @7:30pm

It will be a battle of the bottom two sides as the Breakers and Taipans go head to head. Despite holding last and second last place on the ladder, expect both sides to come out firing and lay everything on the line to claim a much needed win and restore a little bit of faith in their respective fans. Only one win separates the two sides with the Breakers just marginally ahead and looking to create even further ladder separation with a win here.

Tai Webster remains the Breakers most prominent shooter with an average of 19.35 points and has proven his class to have an influence off the boards with his 5.12 rebounds and six assists. Finn Delany is the other key candidate for New Zealand with his consistency paramount thanks to his average of 15.52 points and 6.29 rebounds. Levi Randolph has made a splash since joining the side coming off a 23-point, four-rebound and four-assist performance and will want to keep the good times rolling. The Taipans however have been landed a heavy blow with Cameron Oliver returning back home to the US and leaving a huge hole to fill. In saying that, they still have the services of Scott Machado with the livewire more than capable of leading the troops thanks to his average of 16.96 points, 3.52 rebounds and 7.26 assists. The Taipans will need support from Majok Deng, Kouat Noi and Mirko Djeric if they are to get over the line.

Perth Wildcats vs. Brisbane Bullets
Friday, April 23 @9:30pm

Perth suffered a shock loss last round at the hands of the Breakers and will be more than desperate to restore their winning ways against the lower placed Brisbane Bullets. Currently sitting a game behind from top of the table Melbourne United, a win here for the Wildcats could help close the gap and keep the pressure on as the backend of the season approaches. Brisbane on the other hand will be hoping to snap their two game losing streak and continue the theme of upsets going against Perth with a solid win here.

League points leader, Bryce Cotton is the one to watch for the Bullets given his ability to explode out of the blocks at any given time. He has proven that he only needs a short amount of time to change the course of the game with his scoring nous undeniable averaging 24.43 points along with 5.78 assists. Teammate John Mooney is another damaging prospect both on the scoring and rebounding from producing 12 rebounds and 17 points each time he steps out on court. Todd Blanchfield and Jesse Wagstaff are the others to keep a watchful eye on. For the Bullets the ever reliable Nathan Sobey is the most damaging prospect with his ability to work his way towards the rim averaging 22.91 points, 4.27 rebounds and 3.95 assists. Support from Lamar Patterson will be necessary if the Bullets are to worry the Wildcats while Matt Hodgson will also have to get busy with his average of 10.67 points, 6.72 rebounds and 1.22 blocks ticking along nicely.

Melbourne United vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, April 24 @5:30pm

Melbourne United are sitting pretty in first place and boast an eight game winning streak, a feat they will be hoping to maintain in their clash against the 36ers. Melbourne have re-found their form in the past couple of weeks meaning Adelaide will have their work cut out for them this round as they look to overrun the in-form side and keep their slim finals chances alive.

United do not have a shortage of players that are able to step up to the plate and command the ball and will once again need that contingent of players to gel to secure the win. Jock Landale is the main player in focus given his 16.35 point average to accompany his 8.35 assists and 2.57 assists with captain Chris Goulding also a consistent figure. Scotty Hospon is unstoppable when given time and space while Mitch McCarron has found his groove and will be eager to maintain that level of intensity as shown through his average of 11.26 points, 5.22 rebounds and 4.96 assists. Daniel Johnson is the main playmaker for the Adelaide producing 20.88 points a game and will need to be on song if he is to worry United. Efforts from Brandon Paul and rookie Josh Giddey will have to be high with the latter proving to be classy with ball in hand averaging 7.29 assists a game. Sunday Dech and Jack McVeigh will be the other two to keep an eye on.

Illawarra Hawks vs. Sydney Kings
Saturday, April 24 @8:00pm

The Hawks have dropped to fifth position on the ladder after two consecutive losses in Round 14 against the top two sides. Their job will not get any easier though, as they prepare to take on the Kings on Saturday but will be hoping that an element of fatigue plays a factor in their clash as Sydney enter their second game in as many days. Sydney could come into the clash on the back of a win and could be brimming with confidence meaning Illawarra will need to be on their a-game and to play with great confidence if they are any chance to not only secure the win but leapfrog back into the top four.

With Ware and Martin at the helm the Kings will need a wealth of support from their next tier of players. On the flipside the Hawks will be hoping that the likes of Justinian Jessup and Tyler Harvey can get busy and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Harvey is the most proficient shooter in the side with 19.83 points while Jessup is also handy thanks to his 14.86 points and 4.16 rebounds a game. Cameron Bairstow has come along in leaps and bounds this season and will be hoping to keep that momentum going as will Sam Froling who has found a level of consistency across the court for the Hawks. Justin Simon cannot be underestimated and if he is able to get off the leash could help get Illawarra over the line.

Other games:

Brisbane Bullets vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Sunday, April 25 @3:00pm

Cairns Taipans vs. Perth Wildcats
Sunday, April 25 @5:00pm

New Zealand Breakers vs. Adelaide 36ers
Monday, April 26 @7:30pm

Each of these sides will enter their second game of the round with a bottom four clash between the Breakers and 36ers closing out the round. The Taipans have been dealt a difficult task having to combat the Perth Wildcats, but will have the bonus of a home crowd spurring them on while the Bullets and Phoenix are locked and loaded for Sunday afternoon

United make it eight straight to retain top spot

MELBOURNE United made it eight wins on the trot defeating Illawarra Hawks (87-76) thanks to a blistering first quarter of play. Although scoring from both sides fell away in the last term, the damage had already been done with United holding firmly onto top spot in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Hawks landed the first blow of the game with Andrew Ogilvy nailing a dunk. But from there on out it was one way traffic as Melbourne United controlled proceedings and piled on six points straight to build momentum. United seemed to have the magic touch in the opening stanza with their shooting from range coming to the fore as they drilled eight triples across the first half with Jock Landale picking up where he left off while Mason Peatling got busy for United. It was clear that Melbourne were hungry for the win, applying a wealth of scoreboard pressure while limiting the impact of the Hawks as they shut down their offensive plays to stretch out to as much as a 12-point lead throughout the term.

Holding a nine-point margin at the start of the second quarter, Melbourne United wasted no time hitting the scoreboard as Jo Lual-Acuil opened the account with a dunk and proved to have a hot hand sinking the next points of the game as they extended the lead to 13. Tyler Harvey worked tirelessly to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Hawks with his ability to find the rim but in the end it was the accuracy from United that was causing real concern. Melbourne continued to convert at just over 80 per cent from the field as the lead creeped out to as much as 18 before Illawarra reeled it in thanks to Justin Simon and Harvey sinking the final points of the term.

With a sense of urgency filtering across the court for Illawarra, they upped the ante in third term, honing in on United and steadily eating into the margin thanks to some increased defence and attacking forays playing off. Sam Froling inserted himself in the thick of things sparking the Hawks’ comeback with support also coming from Justinian Jessup as they snuck back to a 10-point ball game. but before they knew it the game blew wide open again as Landale and Chris Goulding ignited the scoreboard with the latter landing a handy triple.

The final term ended in favour of the Hawks as they outscored their opponents 11-15 but it was too little, too late as United had done more than enough throughout the game to create a handy buffer and ultimately secure the win.

It was a shared approach from United that got the job done with four players hitting double-figures and effectively plying their trade to influence the outcome of the game. Lual-Acuil led the way for United sinking 15 points in his 19 minutes on court while also reeling in seven rebounds. Landale was another key cog, knocking back 13 points at 60 per cent from the field to accompany his 11 rebounds and five assists. Goulding was his influential self, producing 11 points with three triples included in that along with four rebounds and three assists as Yudai Baba tied for points with 11 of his own. Scotty Hopson was down on his lofty standards but still managed eight points at 50 per cent.

The ever-reliable duo in Jessup and Harvey were once again key pillars for the Hawks however it was not enough to get them over the line. Jessup dominated with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals while Harvey chimed in with 17 points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals. Both Ogilvy and Froling drained 11 points each with the latter also walking away with seven rebounds to his name in a strong showing in a losing effort.

United back to peak form, will they carry it into the NBL21 finals?

FOR the better part of their NBL21 campaign, Melbourne United has been widely regarded as the team to beat by the other eight sides. But since the turn of mid-season that moniker is being pulled in two different directions with the Victorian side and last year’s champions Perth Wildcats sharing the top of the ladder.

But with the last leg of games still to be played, United have all but locked up another postseason appearance, sitting more than five wins ahead of the Illawarra Hawks who currently sit in fourth position on the rankings. Nevertheless, these upcoming matches for Dean Vickerman’s squad will remain tremendously important, as there is little more valuable to a side than going into the finals with good form on their side.

Going all the way back to mid-January, Melbourne’s 24-point thrashing of the Adelaide 36ers was the perfect precursor for how United’s season was going to go, setting up what would be a lengthy unbeaten run to kick off the fixture. The 2020 semi-finalists then earned wins over the Cairns Taipans, South East Melbourne Phoenix, Brisbane Bullets, Illawarra Hawks and Perth Wildcats, capping off a six-game streak from the opening round – the best start to the season from any side across the competition.

Melbourne’s first blemish on their win-loss record came surprisingly on opening night of the inaugural NBL Cup against the Wildcats, who they had defeated just a couple of weeks prior. This loss reminded United not to rest on their laurels given their exemplary start and also how potent the two-time defending premiers still were. United quickly returned to their expected form with four straight victories following their first loss.

If Melbourne had continued their stellar results leading up to today, no one would even question any other team being on their level. But after attaining a ridiculous 10 wins for one loss start to the season, Melbourne conceded their second loss of the campaign to the Bullets to end Round 8. Afterwards, they would then suffer their third loss to the Phoenix, then a fourth to the Hawks, and a fifth to the Sydney Kings. Melbourne’s four-game losing streak quickly produced more doubters as the Wildcats started to close the gap on the ladder leaders.

United’s four losses during the NBL Cup saw them lock up fourth position in the tournament standings below Perth, South East Melbourne and Brisbane – a serious dark patch in what is looking to be a very successful NBL21 for Chris Goulding and his teammates.

Light has certainly been found at the end of United’s mid-season tunnel, having strung together a winning streak of seven games leading up to today since Round 10. Melbourne also sits half a game above Perth with the final lot of games to play, and with home-court advantage on the line come finals, the two sides will be putting their best foot forward to secure that minor premiership.

United has shown this season that there are three main weapons to their team structure. First up is Goulding’s ability to score anywhere on the floor efficiently and quickly which has served the team captain well for numerous years now. Goulding may not be the roster’s top scorer currently, but the 32-year-old has had some awesome scoring nights this season and his 16.2 points per game is evidence this.

A consistent and reliable participant on the floor as well as the second weapon of Melbourne’s three-pronged attack, Mitch McCarron has played all 22 of the team’s games this season (one of three Melbourne players not to miss a game). With this, McCarron has also produced solid numbers averaging 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and almost one and a half steals per outing.

Another player to have appeared in all 22 of United’s contests is Jock Landale and he has well and truly taken the league by storm. Averaging a team-high 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds on 52 per cent shot success from the field, Landale is arguably Coach Vickerman’s biggest and most potent weapon. The big man is also dishing at almost two and a half assists per game and has accumulated eight double-doubles since the beginning of the season.

After losing Jack White (9.1 points and 6.0 rebounds) to a season-ending Achilles injury, the title contenders suffered a big blow to their squad rotation. However, with Scotty Hopson (12 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists) possibly returning and Sam McDaniel (4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds) back on the hardwood, Melbourne can use their depth to their fullest extent in running their opponents off the court. Additional weapons like import Yudai Baba (8.1 points and 2.1 rebounds) and big-man Jo Lual-Acuil (7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds) will also need to be clicking from here on in, as the end of the campaign approaches and especially once the postseason arrives.

Melbourne will have the chance to further consolidate their top-four dominance when they face the Hawks on Sunday, looking for their ninth home win in 11 matches. United then host the struggling 36ers in Round 15, who are running out of time to make their way into the top four and will need to defeat the Victorian side to start that uphill climb.

The NBL has also released the remaining fixtures for all nine teams. For information regarding the 14 games that Melbourne United are yet to play – CLICK HERE.

2021 NBL Round 14 preview: Melbourne United look to maintain top spot

ROUND 14 of the National Basketball League rolls around tonight with the top spot once again up for dispute as Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats battle for pole position. Cairns Taipans look to work their way off the bottom of the ladder, while the mid-table logjam continues to develop.

Cairns Taipans vs. Adelaide 36ers
Wednesday, April 14 @7:30pm

Adelaide have strung together two consecutive wins and will be on the hunt for their third when they take on Cairns. Although the Taipans will have their home crowd spurring them on, the 36ers have winning momentum and that counts for a lot given the current they trounced Perth Wildcats. With a sense of belief amongst the team expect the 36ers to capitalise on the Taipans who have struggled all season with consistency and man power to trouble opposition teams for a full four quarters.

Rookie Josh Giddey has been a revelation this season for Adelaide with his spatial awareness and impressive skillset doing all the damage. In his 19 games, Giddy has averaged 11.16 points, 6.84 rebounds and 7.05 assists highlighting his prowess while teammate Daniel Johnson has dominated the points scoring column with a tick over 20 points a game. Brandon Paul is another figure to keep an eye out for in the clash with guard able to effectively ply his trade to keep the scoreboard ticking over, coming off a 20 point performance last round. For the Taipans it will be up to the damaging pairing of Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver to do the heavy lifting. Machado has an average of 17.09 points, 7.36 assists and 3.68 rebounds while Oliver produces 16.55  points, 9.27 rebounds and 1.18 assists. However they will need support from the likes of Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric and Nate Jawai if they are to overrun the 36ers.

Sydney Kings vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, April 15 @7:30pm

Having only played the week earlier, the Sydney Kings will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and get the win over the Phoenix in front of their home crowd. The Kings have only won one game in their last five outings, while the Phoenix have been in much better form recording three victories to hold onto third spot on the ladder. Sitting outside the top four in sixth position the Kings really need a win here as we enter the backend of the NBL season if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.

Spearheaded by Casper Ware the Kings have a reliable source of points and a real energiser bunny that can change the course of a game within a heartbeat. Ware has an impressive stat line consisting of 19.09 points, 3.64 rebounds and 4.23 assists to partner up with the likes of Jarrell Martin who has been a revelation this season. Martin is another one the Phoenix will be looking to keep a lid on as he produces 17.88 points and 6.94 rebounds on average. Teammates, Dejan Vasiljevic and Didi Louzada will need to find their groove and momentum to hit the scoreboard and provide some additional support for the duo. South East Melbourne, have no shortage of impact players with Mitch Creek often leading that contingent coming off a 26 point and five rebound effort. Creek is not alone with Kyle Adnam having a season to remember thanks to his average of 14 points while Cameron Gliddon has been a strong presence and will be eager to assert himself once again in this contest. The influence of Ryan Broekhoff and Keifer Sykes is undeniable with the duo able to cause waves both in offence and defence.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Brisbane Bullets
Friday, April 16 @7:30pm

The Bullets produced a stunning victory over Perth Wildcats in Round 13 and while they went down to United in their second clash of the round will still have a sense of belief coming into their contest against the lowly ranked New Zealand Breakers. The Bullets have shown glimpses of dominance, able to work their way back into the contest and apply a wealth of pressure something they will have to impose on the Breakers who have been known for their fast starts.

Nathan Sobey is a real livewire for the Bullets with his ability to navigate past the defence and hit the scoreboard effectively. Currently boasting an average of 23.29 points a game, Sobey will be the one to watch while the likes of Lamar Patterson and Jason Cadee have proven to be impactful players that can change the course of a game in an instant. Both Matthew Hodgson and Harry Froling are other viable options for the Bullets boasting averages of 10.35 points and 7.52 points apiece. For the Breakers it will be the services of Tai Webster and Finn Delany that will be required if they are to topple the Bullets. Webster leads the side in points with an average of 19.35 to his name along with 5.12 rebounds while Delany is a commanding presence coming off a 25 point showing against the Wildcats. Both Tom Abercrombie and Robert Loe are other figures to keep an eye out for when the Breakers take on Brisbane on Friday night.

Perth Wildcats vs. Illawarra Hawks
Friday, April 16 @9:30pm

Perth will be chomping at the bit as they look to get back on the winners list after suffering back-to-back losses to much lower ranked opponents. But the job does not get any easier for the Wildcats as they prepare to lock horns with Illawarra Hawks who are keen to keep their season alive with a much needed win here in order to secure their spot in the top four. It has been an up and down past couple of weeks for Illawarra but are hoping to build on their recent winning form to make it three wins on the trot.

There is no denying that Bryce Cotton is the barometer for the Wildcats, not only leading his side when it comes to points but so too the competition thanks to his 25.33 points a game. Cotton is also crafty with ball in hand registering 5.67 assists, meaning the Hawks will have to shut down his entire game in order to stop Perth. John Mooney is another key cog given his prowess off the boards averaging 12.05 a game along with 16.76 points. Todd Blanchfield is a force to be reckoned with, finding his form last round while Jesse Wagstaff is reliable. When looking at Illawarra it is the contributions of Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup that Perth will have to look out for given their capacity to break the game wide open. Harvey leads the way with an average of 20 points with Jessup sitting on 14.83 points and 4.22 rebounds. Cameron Bairstow often sneaks under the radar but is a key contributor with his 11.43 points and 6.21 rebounds.

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, April 18 @3:00pm

Melbourne United do not open their Round 14 account until Sunday, where they take on the Hawks in what will be a short turn around for Illawarra. The added break could work wonders for United as they look to hold onto top spot and keep their winning ways going sitting a game clear of the Wildcats. Expect the top four battle to have plenty of feeling as they look to assert themselves and prepare for the final stages of the season given Illawarra had a mixed bag of results in Round 13.

United are rich with scoring options with Jock Landale dominating in his sides performance against the Bullets and looking to replicate that type of form in his outing against Illawarra. Landale produces on average 16.5 points, 8.23 rebounds and 2.45 assists with teammate Chris Goulding a reliable figure thanks to his 16.19 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.13 assists. The unassuming Mitch McCarron can turn a game on its head while Jo Lual-Acuil is a menace off the boards averaging 5.48 rebounds. Once again Harvey and Jessup will have to be on their a-game if they are to topple United at home. If Sam Froling can find some room to hit the scoreboard and Deng Adel can get busy it will go a long way in pushing United and potentially securing a win.

 

Other games:

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, April 17 @5:30pm

Sydney Kings vs. Cairns Taipans
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Perth Wildcats vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, April 18 @5:00pm

Each of these teams will gear up for their second appearance in Round 14 as the competition continues to heat up. The Phoenix will take on Adelaide while Sydney Kings play host to Cairns Taipans on Saturday night. Perth close out the round against the Breakers for the second time in as many weeks with the Wildcats hoping to notch up another win to keep in touch with Melbourne United.

Melbourne United hold on in thriller

MELBOURNE United continued their winning streak last night, producing a nine point victory over Brisbane Bullets (98-89) to further lament their position on top of the ladder. But it was not easy going for United as the Bullets showed plenty of grit and determination to fight their way back into the contest and give their opponents a real fright.

Coming in off an upset win against Perth Wildcats only days earlier, the Bullets were keen to make it two from two against the top sides but United clearly had other plans bursting out of the gates in the opening term. Jock Landale was unstoppable, finding his range from deep to sink three consecutive triples. This energy filtered across the United outfit as they looked to dominate from downtown as 12 of their first 25 points stemmed from three-pointers. They simply could not be denied as the undermanned Brisbane side failed to get going or have an answer for Melbourne as they skipped out to an 11-point lead at the first change.

It was more of the same in the second term as United picked up where they left off playing with great conviction and class to weave the ball down the court and deny Brisbane any chance to attack the rim themselves. A timeout called by Brisbane seemed to be what the doctor ordered as they came out firing, spearheaded by Nathan Sobey. The side worked in overdrive culling the lead to a mere eight points before unrest filtered across the court with Matt Hodgson sitting Chris Goulding down. With tempers rising Hodgson registered an unsportsmanlike foul as did Mitch McCarron while Jo Lual-Acuil was tech-fouled putting an early end to his night. Although the Bullets worked their way back into the contest their efforts were overawed by some last minute baskets to McCarron and Sam McDaniel.

The Bullets came into the third quarter with a real pep in their step and ready to take up the challenge that United had lay down to them. Their energy across the court was causing all sorts of trouble for Melbourne who could not keep a lid on the courageous Bullets. Sobey continued his merry way as Lamar Patterson found his groove to reduce the margin to a mere five points as the clock ticked down. Brisbane outscored their opponents 23-12 in a complete turn of events and making for an enthralling finish to the game.

With it all to play for in the final stanza it was Yudai Baba that landed the first blow to establish a 10 point lead for United. But the Bullets were not done with yet, dwindling the margin back to a mere five points midway through the term. However United did enough to hold on and grind out the game despite missing the likes of Shea Ili, Scotty Hopson and Jack White to claim their 17th win of the season and create some much needed ladder separation.

Landale was the most prolific player on court for United producing 23 points at 42 per cent from the field. His output was elite as he reeled in 13 rebounds, eight of which were defensive along with three assists, three steals and two blocks. Goulding was his ever-reliable self, getting busy with 18 points and three rebounds. Teammate, McDaniel plied his trade in the win registering 15 points at an impressive 60 per cent from the field while also dragging in four rebounds and three assists. Baba had a game to remember off the bench walking away with 16 points as Lual-Acuil presented a strong front with nine points and five rebounds before being sent off.

For the Bullets, it was Sobey that did the heavy lifting in a dominant captains performance. His accuracy from long range was key, nailing six of his nine attempts while also securing six rebounds and a steal. Harry Froling made his mark with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists as Hodgson worked tirelessly thanks to his 13 points and eight rebounds. Patterson found his feet producing 12 points and four rebounds off the bench while Jason Cadee managed to register seven assists and eight points.