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GAME REPORT

Phoenix Prevail After Broekhoff-Goulding Masterclass

Ryan Broekhoff and Chris Goulding sent a reminder of why they are among Australia's greatest ever shooters on the eve of the NBL season during Sunday's 89-87 win for the South East Melbourne Phoenix over Melbourne United.

It was the final game of the NBL Blitz ahead of the 2021/22 NBL season that begins this Friday night and the two Melbourne rivals fresh off last season's semi-final battle took the chance to get as much as possible from the last hit out.

Playing out of the venue formerly affectionately known as 'The Cage' in Parkville, it was a fascinating match up between two teams with high hopes during #NBL22.

However, without question it was the shootout between two of Australia's finest ever shooters Ryan Broekhoff and Chris Goulding that stole the show, and ultimately decided the game.

Little separated the two teams throughout the afternoon with Melbourne leading by five at quarter-time and then South East Melbourne Phoenix drawing level by half-time.

The Phoenix went into three quarter-time leading by a point following a half-court prayer on the buzzer from new captain Kyle Adnam. 

That came without potentially the highlight play of the Blitz when Melbourne's Next Star Ariel Hukporti blocked Isaiah Le'Afa up one end and then followed up a Goulding miss to deliver a stunning putback slam.

Despite that, the final stretch turned into the Goulding-Broekhoff show starting with the Melbourne captain hitting a pull up jumper with just under seven minutes to go to put his team up 78-75.

A couple minutes later and Broekhoff hit a three to bring the Phoenix back within two before Goulding immediately responded with a triple of his own to see United up 83-78 with four minutes left.

Broekhoff again connected from downtown to bring South East Melbourne back within two and he was far from done yet. He hit two more triples in the space of 30 seconds to take his team from three down to two up with just over two minutes remaining.

Ultimately Melbourne had two good looks on the final possession with Shea Ili missing an open three and then Goulding did the same after the offensive rebound from Mason Peatling for the Phoenix to hold on and win by two to close out the Blitz.

It's a second win from four games at the Blitz for the Phoenix after a first up win over the Sydney Kings and following losses to the Illawarra Hawks and New Zealand Breakers.

Meanwhile, the defending champions United finish the Blitz with a win over the Breakers but losses against the Hawks, Kings and Phoenix.

Ryan Broekhoff finished the afternoon with 21 points and seven rebounds while hitting 6/8 from downtown for the Phoenix.

Mitch Creek added 18 points, Isayah Le'Afa 11 points and four assists, Kyle Adnam 10 points and two assists, Xavier Munford nine points, six rebounds and four assists, and Tim Forsyth seven points and six boards.

Goulding delivered 26 points for Melbourne on 10/16 shooting from the floor and 5/10 from three-point territory.

Ariel Hukporti finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three blocks, Shea Ili 12 points and four assists, Jo Lual-Acuil 10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and Brad Newley 10 points and seven rebounds.

Both teams now turn their attention to the opening of the #NBL22 season with the Phoenix at home to the New Zealand Breakers on Saturday night before United take on the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena as part of Sunday's triple header.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL BLITZ

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 89 (Broekhoff 21, Creek 18, Le'Afa 11)

MELBOURNE UNITED 87 (Goulding 26, Hukporti 13, Ili 12)

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