Image: @MelbUnited Twitter

For two teams hungry and determined for victory, Melbourne United took full control to seal victory after a strong first half.

For two teams hungry and determined for victory, Melbourne United took full control to seal victory after a strong first half.

Both teams came into Round 10 looking to end their losing streak, both outside of the top six and looking to get any win on the board.

Melbourne United welcomed back a full roster, with Shea Ili returning from a concussion and Isaac Humphries returning from COVID.

Marcus Lee, Shea Ili, Rayjon Tucker, and Brad Newley were instrumental in the first quarter for United, finishing with six, five, and four points each respectively.

United had a strong intent, lifting their energy and finding flow on the offensive end, with Shea Ili and Marcus Lee hitting open baskets to take an early lead.

Aron Baynes and  Nathan Sobey shot the lights out for the Bullets, on fire early from the three-point line. Whilst the Bullets ended the first quarter with a 10-4 scoring run, United took a five-point lead at quarter time.

United opened the second quarter strongly with eight straight points to start the quarter.  The story for the Bullets in the first half was the costly turnovers, turning over the ball 10-6. United was able to convert from the Bullets’ turnovers, 10-1, whilst United’s shooting from the field maintained control of the first half, taking a nine-point lead at halftime.

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Tucker and Lee finished off a strong first half with 13 and 11 points respectively, whilst Humphries was strong in the post, finishing with six points and six rebounds.

For the Bullets, Jason Cadee finished a strong first half with 10 points, four rebounds, and five assists, whilst Nathan Sobey finished the half with nine points, three rebounds, and two assists.

In a tight tussle for the first few minutes in the third quarter and being challenged, United continued to get key stops on the defensive end, with the likes of Lee, Goulding, Tucker, Pealing, and Ili, continuing to show their strong shooting, maintaining an eight-point lead at three-quarter time.

A strong, solid 33-25 last quarter from United sealed the victory at home,  with United putting the foot down and controlling the game on their terms, shooting the lights out from the three-point line to seal the victory, 104-88. Coming off an ACL reconstruction and playing his first game, Callum Dalton nailed a long shot three-pointer, giving the crowd and bench an extra cheer.

Speaking to the media post-match, Dean Vickerman spoke about having the full team back and what his team could pull up.

“It was great. Having Shea and ‘Ice’ (Isaac Humphries) back we saw that it allowed the ball to move to start with.”

“We saw Tuck get some kick ahead early on to get him going and Shea made his shots, he was great. He had a massive steal on Baynesy chasing something down, he hit a big three and he did some amazing things.”

“We haven’t had 27 assists all year so to let the basketball move and trust each other, and make extra passes was the right way to play basketball. It was fun.”

“Everyone’s starting to learn their role, X comes off the bench and has 10 assists.”

Whilst everyone at Melbourne United hit the floor, it was an even contribution, including off the bench and played their role.

Four Melbourne United players hit double figures. Rayjon Tucker (20 points, three rebounds, three assists), Chris Goulding (20 points, one rebound, three assists), Marcus Lee (18 points, six rebounds, one steal), and Shea Ili (15 points, four rebounds, two steals) were among United’s best.

Melbourne United travel to Perth to finish their double-header in round 10, taking on the Perth Wildcats on Monday night.

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