24/04/2024

Mitch Creek continued his dominance against the Brisbane Bullets. (Photo: South East Melbourne Phoenix/Twitter)

Mitch Creek's dominance in NBL22 continued, leading the South East Melbourne Phoenix to enact revenge in their return trip to Nissan Arena.

The South East Melbourne Phoenix returned to Nissan Arena two weeks after their disappointing loss to dish out revenge on the Brisbane Bullets. They’ll fly home having done just that, thanks to Mitch Creek’s dominance in the first half.

Both teams came out firing in a high scoring first quarter, but the highlight was undoubtedly Creek. The 29-year-old ended the quarter with 13 points, without missing a shot, going a perfect five from five shot attempts.

Creek has started the season in career-best form, posting career highs in points (22.7), steals (1.8) and three-pointers made (48.8 per cent).

The Bullets couldn’t find a way to slow him down in the first half. Lamar Patterson and Robert Franks both spent time on the Phoenix’s star forward, but were unable to slow him down, as he finished the half with 20 points (8/9 FG, 2-2 3P).

The game tightened at the start of the second half as the Bullets started to slow Creek and the Phoenix’s offence down, and mounted their comeback. This was led by star guard Nathan Sobey, opening the Bullets’ account with a three-point shot, which was only his second field goal attempt.

Unlike in the first half, the Bullets were able to make important defensive stops which helped set up easy buckets for them down the other end of the court.

The Bullets swung the momentum back their way, going on an 11-0 run to bring the margin back to four points at three-quarter time, thanks to a timely Sobey step-back three.

However, all the momentum the Bullets created vanished as the Phoenix ramped the intensity back up and outscored the home side, 17-6. Xavier Munford took the hearts of the Brisbane fans, sewing up the victory with an easy isolation drive into the paint.

South East Melbourne has now won three games in a row since returning from its COVID interrupted break, and will look forward to returning to Melbourne with three of its next four games at home at John Cain Arena.

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The Bullets have now last their last three games after a patch of form on their own return to the court, which will disappoint fans and head coach James Duncan alike.

Brisbane has shown this season that its best is great but its worst is horrible. The Bullets have beaten three of the current top four sides in the competition, but have also lost to the bottom two teams.

With star players such as Nathan Sobey, Robert Franks and Lamar Patterson, Brisbane should be competing for a spot in the top four. But so far in NBL22 its been a season of inconsistencies, as the stars have struggled to all make an impact in the same game.

Tonight, Patterson tried his best to keep the Bullets in the contest, but no one else followed him. Sobey finished with nine points, well below what we’ve come to expect from him, and Franks ended the game with two points and two rebounds.

If Brisbane wants to have any chance of taking fourth, it will need its big guns to step up and fire. Brisbane will next meet the Adelaide 36ers next Thursday.

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