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R3 Preview: Melbourne v Townsville

Melbourne United will be out to win their fourth straight game when they take on the feisty Townsville Crocodiles in the second game of a massive Wednesday double-header. Townsville are facing a difficult road double in Round 3 by playing the two undefeated teams in Melbourne and Perth in 48 hours. The Crocodiles do have a strong history of playing well in Melbourne with three wins from their past four games down south, including a thrilling 109-106 overtime win in their last game at Hisense Arena in March last year. In that overtime win, Mirko Djeric had the best game of his NBL career with a perfect 4-from-4 three-pointers and he continues to be in line for a most improved nomination as the best current long-range shooter on the Crocs team and a career best 6.7 points per game off the bench. This is the first time in the 2015/16 NBL season that two teams are playing each other for the second time, after Melbourne defeated Townsville at the Swamp 99-84 in the first round Todd Blanchfield was the star that night with a new career high 29-points and Chris Goulding dished off in a career best 11 assists, but the visitors did not have it all their own way. The reigning NBL MVP Brian Conklin led Townsville with 25-points and impressively led his young squad into a third quarter lead against Melbourne that were eventually overwhelmed by a barrage of three-pointers from the visitors. That theme has been a constant for all of Melbourne’s opponents so far so the Crocs will be far better prepared to protect the perimeter. Townsville have been competitive in every game they have played with their results since their season opener being an eight-point loss in New Zealand, a three-point win in Sydney and a six-point defeat in Cairns. If they can stay in touch with the League leaders in this game, they will be confident they can pinch another high profile scalp. Facing Melbourne, who are the League highest scoring and best shooting team, will be no easy task and the young Crocs will need to continue to be brave to take it up to the League leaders. BY THE NUMBERS

Games played: 5 Melbourne won 2 Townsville won 3

In Melbourne: Round 9: Melbourne won at Margaret Court 83-79 Round 16: Townsville won at the Cage 81-69

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