Slick Sobey can’t stop a seventh consecutive Melbourne United victory

Slick Sobey can’t stop a seventh consecutive Melbourne United victory

By Lance Jenkinson

Melbourne United has survived an at-times fiery encounter to beat the Brisbane Bullets 98-89 in the National Basketball League at John Cain Arena on Monday night.

United had it all their own way in the first half, opening up a commanding 18-point half time lead.

The second half was anything but a cakewalk for United though, as the Bullets turned up the heat to make it a nervy time for the league leaders.

United centre Jock Landale, the stand out player for the winners with 23 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks, looked a relieved man after United clinched its seventh win in succession.

He sensed a serious challenge from the Bullets, particularly in the third period, brought on by a breathtaking performance by the visitors’ point guard Nathan Sobey.

Sobey was full of energy at both ends of the court, finishing with 30 points and unlocking the United defence with his busy off-the-ball movement.

“We knew that they were going to come on a run,” Landale said.

“They’re a high volume offensive team and they just get after it.

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Melbourne United centre Jock Landale drives to the basket.

“When Sobey starts getting down hill like that and getting his open threes, it’s really hard for us to stop him.

“Our guys did a great job in the end, just trying to clog it up for him in on-balls and just making sure he didn’t feel too loose because I think that third quarter we gave him gaps and he abused them.”

While Melbourne United was made to work in the second half, it always kept the Bullets at an arm’s length on the scoreboard.

United’s buffer was due to the rock solid foundations they had laid in the first half.

With Shea Ili and Jack White on the sidelines with injuries, it allowed others to step up for what is a competitive United team to find minutes on.

Sam McDaniel relishes the extra exposure, scoring 15 points to go with four rebounds and three assists, while Yudai Baba had a profound impact off the bench with 16 points.

United point guard Mitch McCarron was locked-in from the outset.

He wound up with an impressive 11 assists to go with eight points.

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Sam McDaniel launches a shot for Melbourne United.

McCarron wowed the crowd with a spectacular no-look pass leading to a Landale dunk to put a tasty exclamation mark on the win.

Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis was irate with his team’s first half showing and it cost them dearly.

Bullets bigs Harry Froling, with 15 points, and Matthew Hodgson, with 13 points, fought hard, while Lamar Patterson provided some highlights off the bench with 12 points, but it was to no avail.

Earlier in the game, tempers threatened to spill over between the two teams when United star Chris Goulding was floored by an over-aggressive screen by Hodgson in the back court.

It led to unsportsmanlike fouls on Hodgson and a remonstrating McCarron, along with a technical foul on Jo Lual-Acuil for being the third man in, but it handled well by the officials and both teams eventually cooled off.

Goulding had the last laugh though, coming up big in the key moments down the stretch, as he so often does, draining two big three pointers in the final period.

Melbourne United remains on top with a 17-5 record, while Brisbane is down in fifht with 10-11.

Lance Jenkinson

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