United bring back former MVP candidate

AFTER AN underwhelming 2022/23 NBL campaign, it appears Melbourne United are eager to return to the postseason action, headlined by a massive signing on Wednesday.

United had already acquired a number of solid pieces to help boost their roster, but lost the likes of David Okwera and Mason Peatling, seriously damaging the team’s big man stocks.

However, it was announced earlier this week that Melbourne had made one of the biggest additions of the off-season. United will be bringing back Jo Lual Acuil, who was a cemented star during his last season with the team in 2021/22.

Lual-Acuil was one of United’s best players of the last few years, proving an elite figure during his three seasons in the NBL.

In United’s championship-winning campaign 2021, he was named the NBL’s Best Sixth Man, before taking his game to another level the following season. Lual-Acuil led United to the top of the ladder during his last stint in the league, earning himself a top-three finish in MVP voting. He averaged numbers of 16.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.

Following United’s disappointing departure from the postseason, the big man headed over to the Chinese Basketball Association, and posted impressive figures of 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, one steal and 1.7 blocks per game.

Lual-Acuil will now step back into a starting role for United, who will be eager to improve on last season where they narrowly missed out on the newly introduced play-in.

Both the team and the player appear extremely thrilled with the reunion.

“I always said that if I was going to come back to the NBL, it would be to play for Melbourne United,” Lual-Acuil Jr said. “I’m happy and excited to be back home and I can’t wait to play in front of the best fans in the league.”

United head coach Dean Vickerman appeared just as excited to have his star big man back on the playing roster.

“He thrives in our system. We give him the freedom to handle the basketball, play on the perimeter, shoot the ball and he takes that freedom and makes everyone around him better,” Vickerman said.

“The opportunity for him to come home, be with his family and showcase himself to have another shot at the NBA and win another Championship with United is what he has in front of him.”

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