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Melbourne down Illawarra in high scoring shootout

Melbourne United import Stephen Holt has staked a claim as one of the competition's elite on Day 2 of the NBL Blitz, spearheading a 106-99 win over the Illawarra Hawks on Thursday. Holt shot nothing but three-pointers, finishing with 7/9 from deep, finishing on 27 points, helping United to 18/33 as a team. Illawarra also had it working from range with 14/30 thanks to 5/8 from Tim Coenraad (24 points) and provided an inside-out presence with AJ Ogilvy (21 points). Both teams came out bombing from deep with nine triples in the first term alone, spearheaded by United import Stephen Holt who went 4/6 from range – three of which came in under a minute. Holt wasn't the only one finding the nylon as Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield filled it up early, joined by Hawks Oscar Forman, Tim Coenraad and Cody Ellis in the 26-21 first term. Fresh off the plane and playing limited minutes, United recruit Hakim Warrick threw down two highlight reel dunks, while Rhys Martin and Ogilvy held the fort for Illawarra. "We only wanted to play him for a heartbeat out there. I'm not worried about him; he'll be fine. "When he unravels, he gets to the rim pretty fast." Both teams were going bucket for bucket in the term, but United youngster out of Boise State University Igor Hadziomerovic had the final say on the half with a corner three off Holt's hand. And that's when things got fun for United. Daniel Kickert opened the term with a couple of bucket followed by a Majok Majok slam. Holt soon chimed in with a couple more triples and before Illawarra could blink the score read 67-54 with four minutes left in the quarter. Good Hawks ball movement was being matched with United's skilful solo feats through Goulding, Holt and swingman Brad Hill as Melbourne held the margin at double digits until Coenraad tripled with 3:57 left, bringing the margin back to eight. Ogilvy poured in 12 points in the final six minutes to put pressure on Demopoulos' men, but Goulding and Blacnhfield made the final few minutes their own with clutch buckets to bury the Hawks. "I was concerned that we put ourselves in a position for (Illawarra) to even sniff it," United coach Dean Demopoulos said. "I thought there were parts of the game where we shot themselves in the foot when we were building a lead. "You've got to give (the Hawks) credit, they turned up the juice at the end of the game. They pressed and they got us unravelled. "I wasn't so concerned with what happened at the end, I was more concerned about how it got to there." Despite the loss, Hawks coach Rob Beveridge was pleased with the effort minus two former league MVPs Kirk Penney and Kevin Lisch. "We want to have an identity of 'never say die', play with freedom and go for it," Rob Beveridge said after the game. "We were still in the game even when we were down by 12-14 points. "To bring 30-plus points back into the team with Lisch and Penney, we can be dangerous. "On our night I think we can beat any team."   Melbourne United 106 (Holt 27, Goulding 17, Kickert 15) Illawarra Hawks 99 (Coenraad 24 Ogilvy 21, Martin 17) Box Score
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