South East Melbourne started off rusty in its return from COVID in a loss to the Brisbane Bullets at the Armory. (Image: South East Melbourne Phoenix/Twitter)

The South East Melbourne Phoenix returned to the court in disappointing fashion, with a rusty first quarter nearly ending their first game in 28 days before it started.

The South East Melbourne Phoenix returned to the NBL in disappointing fashion, with a poor first quarter showing leading to a big loss against the Brisbane Bullets.

Coming off a 28-day break due to COVID issues within their camp, they were coming up against a Bullets side who had recently given the Breakers their first win of NBL22.

NBL legend Andrew Gaze said on the broadcast, “that first quarter’s going to be a big testing period for this Phoenix outfit”. And it was ultimately a very testing for one of the favourites to go all the way.

The Phoenix started out by conceding a 13-0 run in only three minutes, giving Tyler Harrison and superstar Nathan Sobey easy buckets. They started shooting poorly too, going none from five during that run before their first bucket

Despite getting their first bucket, they continued to give buckets and fouls away like candy. Their shooting continued to be poor, missing even the simplest of layups and often getting rejected.

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Whilst Sobey didn’t have much influence after that early run, the Bullets still had alternatives to him on offence. They also brought a high level of intensity throughout the quarter.

The Bullets continued making their shots, including the tough ones, whilst on the other end South East Melbourne was missing them from all angles.

The Phoenix started to tighten up a little bit defensively late on, with Mitch Creek sinking a bucket plus an and one. However, it was too little too late, as they continued to miss and give away easy buckets in the last minute.

Star import Lamar Patterson finished off the quarter with the final point at the free throw line as Brisbane led by 25 points heading into the first break.

Whilst they managed to shake the rust off for the rest of the game, their first quarter cost the Phoenix. In spite of a late comeback by South East Melbourne, the Bullets ran away with a 16-point win at the Armory.

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