WWAG NBL24 Match Recap - Round 18 v South East Melbourne Phoenix
Melbourne United Media
Ready for another intense Throwdown matchup, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr looked to set the tone early, swatting a shot at the hoop to start the game.
Sporting a shorthanded lineup, the Phoenix fought hard in the opening term, working their way to the free-throw line and challenging United’s each time they attacked the hoop.
While the scores remained close for much of the term, once Ian Clark checked into the game, everything changed.
The import guard found his range immediately, cashing in on a pair of three-pointers as well as a tough floater over the defence.
This, along with a thunderous alley-oop slam from Ariel Hukporti and two triples from Shea Ili and Tanner Krebs, allowed United to pull ahead by nine points going into the first break.
Looking to build on this advantage, JLA muscled his way inside to start the second period, slamming home a dunk after some brilliant play-design.
This was followed by another Clark three-pointer before Chris Goulding got in on the long-range action, splashing his first three-ball of the game.
Commanding so much defensive attention, Goulding turned facilitator a few plays later, finding Luke Travers for a throw down.
More big plays from the likes of Ili, Hukporti and Tanner Krebs helped Melbourne extend its lead to as many as 16 points, however some late-clock shotmaking from the Phoenix drew the visitors back within 13 points at half-time.
Coming out of the major break, United were relentless, orchestrating a 16-2 run in four minutes of play.
JLA and Luke Travers each rose up for emphatic slams, while Matthew Dellavedova and Ili fired away from downtown, propelling Melbourne to a 25-point advantage.
On the back of this strong play from MU’s starters, the bench United got involved, starting with Flynn Cameron getting all the way to the hoop for a bucket before Clark and Krebs both found the bottom of the net.
Looking to close the period in style, Zac Triplett checked into the game, coming away with a steal and feeding Cameron for another triple, giving Melbourne a 29-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Eager to close well and help their percentage on the NBL24 ladder, Dean Vickerman injected Brad Newley into the game, who swatted a shot on his first possession.
Despite this, the Phoenix made a brief run back, closing the gap to 19 points by working their way to the free-throw line.
Needing a boost, Development Player Malith Machar subbed into the contest alongside JLA and Travers to help stop their momentum.
The former got on the glass, helping start United’s fast-break offence, while the latter two each finished tough shots at the rim.
Ultimately, Melbourne were able to hold onto their advantage, sweeping this season’s Throwdown series 4-0 and bringing the overall rivalry tally to 17-7.
United will next hit the court at home against the New Zealand Breakers on 11 January from 2pm.