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United run away with win over Sixers

A third quarter blitzkrieg from Melbourne United has set up an 89-85 comeback win over the Adelaide 36ers in Game 8 of the NBL Blitz. Melbourne simply could not miss in the 37-26 third term which featured four triples to 2013/14 NBL scoring champion Chris Goulding, who finished with a game-high 17 points, adding six rebounds and four assists for good measure. Zippy Adelaide import Kenyon McNeail top-scored for his side, sharing the point guard duties with Adam Gibson who has had a quiet Blitz to date. The 36ers offence stagnated in the second quarter, scoring just 12 points, but coach Joey Wright holds no fears about the Gibson-McNeail combination going forward. "With those guys it's the same as most of the league is, I don't think there are any pure 2-guards in this entire league," he said. "You look at Jermaine Beal and he's a combo guard with Damian Martin. Every team in the league will be something like that." Young Sixers centre Matt Hodgson showed some promising signs on his way to full fitness, with good touch around the bucket in a head-to-head duel with the internationally-acclaimed Hakim Warrick. "He is still limited in what he's able to do physically. Right now he's only 10-12 minutes, I think we played him a little too much tonight," Wright said. "But when he gets stronger and fitter he's going to be a force for us." Adelaide shot out of the blocks with a 14-6 run to end the first quarter up 27-18, a margin which grew to 17 in quick time after wings Mitch Creek and Nathan Sobey took over. Meanwhile a disorganised Melbourne, guided by fledgling players Kyle Adnam, Igor Hadziomerovic and Emmanuel Golong was bombing contested triples without success. A late-quarter 14-2 United run headed by Stephen Holt and Daniel Kickert jumpers pegged the margin back to four by the main break. Adelaide were monstered straight out of the break with multiple contributors until Goulding caught fire with a couple of long bombs, and 3.5 minutes into the half a four-point deficit had become a lead of six. The threes kept raining through Goulding, Adnam and Holt as the three-quarter-time margin sat at seven. The early fourth term proved a highlight reel as aerial power forward Hakim Warrick found himself on the wrong end of three failed dunk attempts –all of which met by Anthony Petrie – in the first five minutes of the quarter. Petrie edged the margin back to just two with 4:48 on the clock before Warrick redeemed himself with a strong and-one followed by an assist to last season's Most Improved Player Todd Blanchfield for three as Melbourne snuffed out Adelaide's revival. First-year United coach Dean Demopoulos says he is enjoying the challenge of coaching such a talented group of players in Australia after honing his craft for many years in the USA. "It didn't start out well tonight, but I was really pleased with what they did. They stayed together and they kept working. They put their hard hats on and did it one possession at a time," he said. "I love it (in Australia). These guys are great. Where you are and the venue you play at is really not very important; it's who you are with, and I'm with a good group of guys. "It really looks like they are an unselfish group. They look for one another, they're a good group of guys and I think they like one another. "We're building, it's a work in progress. I'm new and they are new so we're looking to get the most out of every second we are together." United walked away with five Blitz points while Adelaide managed two for first and third-quarter wins. MELBOURNE UNITED 89 (Goulding 17, Blanchfield 15, Kickert 14) ADELAIDE 36ERS 85 (McNeail 16, Creek 15, Johnson 14) Box Score
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