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Melbourne United v Adelaide 36ers Game Preview

Melbourne United v Adelaide 36ers When: 3pm (AEST), Sunday 9 October Where: Hisense Arena, Melbourne Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports Reason for optimism There was a lot not to like about the Adelaide 36ers’ first-up performance against Illawarra, as the 122-88 scoreline shows, but there were still some small reasons for optimism. “To come back in the second (quarter) and play the way we did shows that we can do it,” captain Mitch Creek said. “We came out in the second and you think this is what we’re about, this is the kind of basketball we want to play, this is the kind of offence we want to demonstrate.” The 36ers racked up 34 points at 65 per cent as they pushed hard off Hawks makes and misses, their open-court game a thing of beauty, especially when Creek had the ball and was slicing to the basket or nailing triples. Defensively they also turned the screws late in the half, holding the Hawks to five points on 1-of-12 shooting over the final five minutes to pinch the lead heading into the sheds. Reason for pessimism But that’s where it all went awry, Illawarra unleashing a 34-10 third quarter to blow the game open. “It’s not good enough, we can’t play with that kind of energy throughout the game. We played eight minutes, if you play eight minutes of basketball you going to lose by 40,” Creek said. “It’s not a learning curve, it’s an arse whooping.” Adelaide must now back up for Sunday’s road clash in Melbourne, a city where they have won just two of their past nine games.     While Creek’s brilliant offensive display on Friday, the solid 13-point, six-rebound debut of Majok Deng are reasons to be positive, you can bet coach Joey Wright’s pre-game message will be all about defence. “It’s a bad cocktail to rely on your offence,” he said after his team racked up the second-highest score of the opening round to date and lost by 34 points. “I haven’t seen it much in pre-season, I haven’t seen it at all, I haven’t seen our team play with the passion we need to on defence. Ultimately it comes down to individuals wanting to play like that. “We’re trying to disguise it with full-court pressure and these things but at the end of the day it comes down to the individual.” United buoyant While the 36ers head south an angry team, Melbourne United have a different mindset after their 76-71 to the powerhouse Breakers in Auckland on Friday. “This game was a good learning lesson for us as a new group, we took a lot of positives out of this game, just some minor tune-ups and we’ll be alright,” point guard Cedric Jackson said. “It’s fun, we have a lot of shooters on our team, it’s just building that chemistry better and better. That’s why I said tonight was great, the adversity just hit us and it made us come together so we know what we have to do.” Those shooters struggled to break New Zealand’s defensive shackles, however, Jackson and fellow former Breaker Tai Wesley combining for 29 points at 48 per cent, the rest of their teammates just 42 points at 38 per cent, although there were some moments of brilliance.     Recruits Ramone Moore and David Andersen were also efficient, shooting 7-of-13 from the field and dishing nine assists between them, but United fans would undoubtedly like to see them more involved in the offence at Hisense Arena on Sunday. Coach Dean Demopoulos saw plenty of promise from the performance of his recruits, describing his side as “a work in progress” and that will be “a very, very good team”, but issued a word of caution ahead of the clash with a desperate Adelaide. “I hope it doesn’t take too long. I’ve seen this group in stretches play the way they’re going to play in a lot longer stretches in the ensuing games,” he said. While Demopoulos wants to see some more of the same from United, Creek says Friday’s “second half is something I don’t ever want to see again” from the 36ers. His advice to the team is to arrive in Melbourne with a strong dose of amnesia and be the audacious, high-flying young team they plan to be. “We’ve got to shake this off in the next 12 hours, wake up tomorrow fresh as a daisy like nothing happened and go and attack a solid Melbourne side on their home court,” he said.  
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