THE best sides just get the job done when needed, don’t they? The National Basketball League (NBL) action continued on Saturday night, with the competition holding a double-header on Easter Saturday. The first of those matches saw the Brisbane Bullets travel south to take on Melbourne United at John Cain Arena on Saturday evening. The reigning champions have been the been the benchmark of the league for the entirety of the 2021/22 season, so the Bullets had a fair task on their hands here.
However, the NBL has been producing a solid number of upsets in recent weeks, so the visiting side had plenty to take inspiration from. It was a cracking affair at John Cain Arena, with the game looking like going either way heading into the final quarter. In the end, the class of United shone through in the fourth term, as they broke away to claim a nine-point win in front of their home crowd.
Melbourne United (88) def. Brisbane Bullets (79)
It was a statement first quarter from the Bullets, with the visitors showing their intent early on and grabbing a quick lead. Jason Cadee showed no hesitation in firing from deep, while Lamar Patterson also added to the dynamic nature of the team’s offence. They took a three-point lead into the first break, which is certainly no easy feat against one of the league’s most proficient sides on the offensive end. United made quick work of erasing the quarter-time deficit, with a strong mix of inside and outside scoring resulting in plenty of open looks. The Brisbane defence had no answer for the dominant showing by Jo Lual Acuil inside the paint, with the big man able to do as he pleases as his side trailed by just a single point at the main break.
It was a see-sawing affair to kick off the second half, with neither side able to break away on the scoreboard. Every go-ahead bucket was seemingly answered by the opposition. The offence was coming from contrasting methods, with the Bullets looking to find their shooters, while United constantly attacked the paint. By the end of the third quarter, the game was tied at 61 apiece. The final term completely belonged to United, with last year’s winners proving why they are such a threat of going back-to-back at the end of the season. They were clinical on both ends of the court and the Bullets simply had no answers as Melbourne stormed away with a nine-point win.
As mentioned above, Lual-Acuil was the man for United, finishing with a big double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds as he dominated the Bullets inside the paint on both ends of the court. He is a lock for Most Improved Player and a sneaky chance for the MVP too. He combined well with Shea Ili and Chris Goulding, both of whom poured in 13 points. For the Bullets, Cadee and Patterson combined for 43 points and tried their hardest to ensure their offence kept up with United’s.
In the second match of the day’s double-header, the Perth Wildcats have ensured they remain in the box seat for a spot in the upcoming finals series by taking down the Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena on Saturday night. Despite a hiccup against the 36ers on Thursday, the Wildcats were dominant, rallying behind a double-double from Bryce Cotton to run out 19-point winners.