18/05/2024

Ian Clark made a strong official debut for Melbourne United dropping 11 points in the loss. (Photo: Melbourne United Facebook)

While a five-point loss to the Tasmania JackJumpers last weekend was far from ideal for Melbourne United, there was a big positive to take away from the game. Ian Clark.

Clark had a successful debut for Melbourne United on Sunday, and showed he will be a scoring threat for the side this season.

The 32-year-old was dangerous, dropping 11 points off the bench, as well as three rebounds, two assists in 27 minutes of playing time.

Melbourne United coach, Dean Vickerman welcomed the addition of Clark as he returned from a hamstring injury and said the focus now is on finding the right guard combination.

“That’s the challenge for me right now, we take it off a couple preseason games, we take it off tonight and putting Ian back in the lineup,” he said.

“How does he and CG (Chris Goulding) play together and be really effective, he (Clark) shot the ball really well.

“We know what the kind of player he can be for us.”

Clark and Goulding could form one of the deadliest shooting duos in the competition if they can find some chemistry together this season. Goulding was on fire in the first half as he drained four shots from downtown to lead United’s scoring at the main break.

Vickerman added that a lot of pressure had been put on some of the other guards, but hoped the inclusion of Clark could freshen up some other players on the roster.

“It’s a real work in progress,” he said.

“It’s about how can they just get some other scorers really involved and just change their mindset a bit.”

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Clark is an NBA veteran having played 371 games which included tasting the ultimate success – winning a championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2017. He has represented both the Sydney Kings and Adelaide 36ers over the past few seasons as a mid-season recruit. Clark made a positive impact at both clubs showcasing his accurate three-point shot and helping the Kings to a championship in 2022.

Prior to this season, Clark’s 26 NBL games had seen him average 13.3 points per game which included a three-point shooting percentage of more than 40 per cent. Since joining the league, there has just been two other players with a better percentage from beyond the arc.  

While his on-court prowess is impressive, it is his leadership and maturity around a young and emerging group that cannot be understated. Mixing with fellow NBA veteran Matthew Dellavedova, the side has a great balance with young stars like Luke Travers and Ariel Hukporti destined to have strong careers in the NBA.

Ian Clark. (Photo: Melbourne United Facebook).

Dellavedova spoke about Clark as a player and the impact the experienced baller could have on the side.

“[He is] really skilled, high IQ, good hands on defence. Just a really smart player that can shoot the ball, so I think he’s going to help us a lot,” he said.

Melbourne United fell short in their round two match as the JackJumpers went on a 20-3 run late in the game to steal the win by five points but still remain on top of the ladder by percentage sitting 2-1.

Milton Doyle dropped four three pointers in the final term including a dagger with just over a minute remaining. He finished with 25 points and despite not shooting as well as he could’ve in the first half, he continued to persist and was rewarded late in the game.

Doyle was quoted saying “shooters keep shooting” when asked about his role in the JackJumpers’ fourth-quarter comeback.

“I tried to do it a little earlier, just couldn’t make a basket … some fell in at the end,” he said.

Melbourne United will take on Perth Wildcats at RAC Arena tomorrow night and can expect a frosty reception for Travers against his old side – tip off is 9.30pm AEDT.

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