Drinkwise Preview: NBL24 - Round 18 v South East Melbourne Phoenix
Melbourne United Media
It’s time for the fourth and final Throwdown of the regular season as Melbourne United play host to the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Set to play in front of their fans for the first time in over a month, United will be full of excitement ahead of the can’t miss clash.
Needing to secure as many wins out of their last four games of the season as possible, Melbourne will come into the matchup eager to complete a sweep of the season series.
For the Phoenix, having already amassed 15 losses, a defeat on Saturday could all but end their finals hopes depending on other results.
PLAYER TO WATCH
In the midst of a career-best season, Luke Travers will aim to build on his perfect record against SEM in United colours.
Travers, who many have identified as a front-runner for the NBL’s Next Generation Award, is coming off a huge outing in Round 17, tallying 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Not only one of the league’s most dangerous slashers and facilitators, the 22-year-old is the only player in the entire competition averaging over a block and a steal per game.
Look for Travers to get out in the open court once again on Saturday, wreaking havoc on the Phoenix at both ends of the court.
After a pair of 23-point outings in Round 17, Phoenix guard Ben Ayre will have to contend with the league’s best defender when he clashes with Shea Ili.
Stepping up due to SEM’s sheer amount of injuries, Ayre has become a go-to scoring option, and will look to do the same in Throwdown XXIV.
This will however be no easy task with Shea Ili, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year finalist, in front of him.
Returning from concussion, Ili impressed across United’s pair of games last week, finding his way into the lane with ease and providing a lockdown defensive presence.
THE OTHER GUYS
Missing a litany of key players, the Phoenix will look to their collection of surrounding talent as they attempt to keep their season alive.
Former NBA player Abdel Nader has flashed glimpses of his skill, while Gorjok Gak will look to protect the hoop with his athleticism.
What sort of scoring SEM can get from their bench may prove to be the difference, with Owen Foxwell and Rhys Vague able to fill up the score-sheet.
Who: Melbourne United vs South East Melbourne Phoenix
Tip-off: 8pm AEDT, Saturday 3 February, 2024
Where: John Cain Arena, Melbourne
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