20/04/2024

Melbourne United veteran sharpshooter Chris Goulding and coach Dean Vickerman. (Image Credit: Blair Burns)

While Melbourne United might’ve gone down 83-81 in a tough game five Grand final decider against the Jack Jumpers, captain Chris Goulding left no stone unturned in his quest for a fourth NBL title.

The 35-year-old veteran had another fantastic season, leading to All NBL First Team honours, but it was recent injury which overshadowed his finals series.

Goulding has been battling a suspected serious lower leg injury in the past two games and while coach Dean Vickerman did not reveal the extent of the injury, he admitted that his captain was “tough and go” to play during the week.

“It was touch and go in Tasmania whether he’d play or not, but once he got out there and ran around a little bit, he felt like he could get through. So, credit to him, tough kid.”

He sustained a lower leg injury at some stage during game three in Melbourne and battled on, although he had limited on court movement.

“CG playing injured over these last two games, it was amazing what he did, and I won’t talk about his injury too much, he obviously wasn’t 100% and the commitment that he showed to get around those two games, especially the one down there, was absolutely amazing,” Vickerman said.

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Vickerman lamented some of United’s ball movement as being a crucial factor in their loss, after being up by nine points within the last quarter.

“We probably went a little quick sometimes. I just thought in the fourth quarter we kind of went at something and we were really trying to make it happen and if it didn’t happen, it got stuck a little bit,” he said.

“We didn’t execute well enough down the stretch.”

The thing that will haunt United over the off-season was their inability to land the knockout punch against a Jack Jumpers side that never gave in. United led for 79% of the total playing time in the series and all but a few minutes in the decider, but could not get themselves over the line.

“The thing I look back at [is] with a 15-point lead down there [in game two], with a nine-point lead tonight. It’s something that all year, even fourth quarter leads, we haven’t been at our best,” Vickerman said.

“We put ourselves in a winning position with five minutes to go and I felt like they came up with 50/50 balls at that point and that resulted in a couple of big baskets for them.”

An emotional Goulding thanked his and his teammates families’ for allowing him to push towards a shot at championship glory.

“My family, and the families of the players, you allow us to live out our dream, so thank you for sacrificing for us,” Goulding said.

“We’ll be back, we have one goal in mind, and we thank you for letting us pursue that.”

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