He’s one of the biggest names in the NBL, and on Tuesday night, Mitch Creek played a massive role in the South East Melbourne Phoenix’s win out in Gippsland.
Playing their second game in three days, the ex-NBA star put up massive numbers against a Taipans side coming off a 26 day break due to COVID.
In 38 minutes of action he scored 26 points, also acquiring eight boards, two assists, and eight steals, whilst also shooting 64 per cent from the field.
He started out quiet offensively in the first half, but still had 10 points by the break. Defensively and on the boards though, Creek was quite a force.
By the end of the first half, he had acquired seven of his eight rebounds, as well as four of his steals. It was the second half though where he started to heat up and take control offensively.
When the Taipans started to come back, he changed the momentum quickly with five quick points midway through the third.
At the start of the final quarter he hit the Phoenix’s first seven points, hitting two big free throws late on as well as a massive block as the Phoenix picked up their second consecutive victory.
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Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said post match he continues to be impressed with how the perennial MVP candidate is going this season.
“He [Creek] seems to have a little bit more zest from last year, he seems to have fallen back in love with the game, which I think’s important,” the coach said.
“He’s a great leader of this ball club, he’s a great locker room presence, great instructor to his teammates. His name could probably go with those three letters [MVP] at this point in the season, but it’s a long way to go.”
Creek was also supported well by fellow ex-NBA star Ryan Broekhoff, who started to find his touch after a slow start to NBL22.
Broekhoff finished the game with 14 points, shooting 50 per cent from three (3/6). 12 of those points and five of those three point shots came in the first half, also playing 38 minutes on the night.
Taipans’ sloppy turnovers
Whilst Creek and Broekhoff might’ve played a major role in the Phoenix win, the Taipans weren’t helped by their sloppiness with the basketball and bringing it up.
Constantly pestered by South East Melbourne’s full court press, particularly Creek, Cairns conceded a season high 23 turnovers on the night. Taipans coach Adam Forde said post match those turnovers played a major factor in the game.
“What killed us was again referencing the turnovers, but the points they generated off those turnovers. They had six three pointers in the second quarter, majority of those were all in transition, they had 34 total for the game.”
Leading the charge on the turnover front was captain Tahjere McCall. Despite his strong showing (16 points, five rebounds, nine assists), he still conceded nine turnovers.
Despite those turnovers they still somehow managed to stay in touch with the Phoenix, only going down by 10 points at the end of the night.
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