Melbourne United claim the NBL Championship in fine form

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MVP Chris Goulding post match. PICTURE: NBL Facebook page.

The NBL 2017-18 Grand Final Series went the distance with the fifth and final game  between Melbourne United and Adelaide 36ers on Saturday night. Hisense Arena sold out with 10,300 fans creating the crazy atmosphere.

The story so far…
Game 1: United defeated 36ers, 107-96 points.
Game 2: 36ers defeated United 110-95.
Game 3: United defeated 36ers 101-98.
Game 4: 36ers defeated United 90-81.

Two wins a piece, it all comes down to Saturday night, the two best teams of season need to leave everything they’ve got out on the court.

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First Quarter

The crowd is electrifying, United win the tap with no easy first bucket going either way. Three minutes into the first quarter and the 36ers hit the board first from the free throw line. United hit straight back with Goulding hitting the board for the first time and quick ball movement from both sides. 

The referees have definitely come with their whistles and are not letting anything slip by them. United is chasing their first title as a new franchise and it’s looking promising with Goulding hitting three 3-point shots which gets him up to his 100th 3-point shot for the entire season.

Under three minutes to go in the first, the oldest player in the league in David Anderson for United went down with a potential ankle injury forcing him off the court for treatment. 36ers worked hard to try and close the score gap but at the siren United lead them, 34 to 22 points. 

Second Quarter

36ers go into the second in possession of the ball but Goulding gets fouled and hits the board with two points and finishes off with the AND1. For the 36ers to get back into the game they need to start working on their rebound count and hitting their shots. Timeout with 6:53 left on the clock, United continue to lead 36ers, 42-24. This being the biggest lead of the whole Grand Final Series.

Drmic working hard for the 36ers hitting a 3-pointer and getting his team up and about. Goulding fires straight back with another 3-pointer to his name for tonight. 36ers putting in the work defensively but need to make it count on the scoreboard. 

36ers coach, Joey Wright, lets his players know they’re doing alright and to get their breathe back, whilst Ware’s energy keeping United going. As the half time buzzer sounds, United keep their lead over the 36ers, 57-44. These scores being United’s highest score to half time and the 36ers lowest for the series. 

At half time, for United, Goulding and Ware were both firing and sitting on 19 and 17 points each. The 36ers, trying to find some scorers with Drimic on 10 points and Moore on 8. There’s no ruling out the 36ers,  with a strong record of coming from behind, it’s shaping to be a big second half. 

Third Quarter

An unsportsmanlike foul by Moore puts United’s Prather to the free line and lifts the tempo of the game. 36ers keep their composure and find some momentum and keep hustling to get that score gap down. Both teams finding the basket with a foul called on Goulding who wasn’t impressed by it. 36ers cut the lead by United to just six points. 

Frantic plays by both teams with both trying to find their rhythm. The crowd really involved, not happy with a possession call going to the 36ers which should’ve been a United ball. The siren goes, United still in front and not backing down, 78-69. 

Fourth Quarter

Prather comes out firing with the first points of the quarter going to him. Followed by a steal down the other end which draws the foul and goes to the free throw line. If the 36ers want some championship glory, they’ve got to work hard for nine minutes.

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Ware is the first player to get to 20 points for the game with United’s offensive rebound game destroying 36ers. Shorter working hard drops a 3-pointer for the 36ers but is it too little too late for them. Some poor fouls resulting in easy shorts for United making it tough for 36ers to close the score gap.

With one minute to go, the crowd is on their feet, the score sitting on 98-82 in United’s favour. Dean Vickerman will be the first Victorian born coach to guide a Victorian born team to a championship. United know. 36ers know. It’s all over. 

Melbourne United are your 2017/18 NBL Champions. 

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