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R2 Preview: Melbourne v Adelaide

It’s only Round 2, but Melbourne United have set the early honours as the team to beat this year. Tonight, they host the Adelaide 36ers at Hisense Arena and the two teams have arguably the two most athletic rosters in the NBL. Melbourne United have started their season with one round under their belt leading the League in scoring (96 points per game) - a place that Adelaide have made their own for the past two seasons. Tonight will be the first time in seven years, the League has two players on the same floor that have each scored 50-points in an NBL game: Ebi Ere and Chris Goulding. Whenever Ere and Goulding are involved in a game the anticipation is high, but together the atmosphere is volatile. What makes this combination even more special is that Ere was playing under Joey Wright in 2007 when a young 18 year-old from Tasmania was given his first professional opportunity at the Brisbane Bullets. Chris Goulding was witness to Ere’s 51-point explosion a year later that was the last half century scoring game in the NBL until Goulding did it himself in 2014. Now Wright has to come up with a way to curb the League’s most dangerous offensive threat. Another interesting sideline is the chance to see the most experienced coach take on the least experienced - at least in NBL terms - also being the only two US-born head coaches. A win tonight would give Dean Demopoulos three wins to start his career which only two other men have matched in the last 25 years. A win for the Sixers will mean Joey Wright he will notch seventh in most career victories of all time. These teams met at the NBL Blitz and Adelaide shot away to an early break before being worn down by the relentless Melbourne offense who recorded a 89-85 victory. The 36ers were led by import guard Kenyon McNeail (16 points) but he has not been a factor since due to injuries, and has scored just two points in both games combined in Round 1. Whilst the imports have been down, the biggest positive for Adelaide has been the return to form of centre Daniel Johnson. He compliments the running athletic style perfectly and presents a different match-up than the traditional centre. On the flipside, League leading rebounder Majok Majok is creating a massive presence under the ring and must be blocked out. Mitch Creek (Adelaide) and Todd Blanchfield (Melbourne) are both in career-best form and both athletes will love the open floor. The two 25-year olds have taken a giant leap in their stature and their contributions are crucial in tonight’s result. BY THE NUMBERS

Head-to-head: 4 games played Melbourne: 2 wins Adelaide: 2 wins

In Melbourne: United won at Hisense 94 – 91 in round 8 Adelaide won at the Cage 91 – 89 in round 14

Melbourne summary: Round 1 beat Townsville on the road 99-84 Round 1 beat Illawarra at home 93 - 81

Adelaide summary: Round 1 – beat New Zealand at home 90 – 71 Round 1 – lost to Perth at home 66 – 79

FAST FACTS

VIC-HISTORY - No Melbourne-based team has won their first three games of a season since the Melbourne Tigers won nine straight to start the 2008/09 NBL season. They went on to win the NBL Championship that year.

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