United yet to win after opening round
Photo Source: AP
Highly fancied Melbourne United remain winless after the opening round of the NBL season, while the newly revived Brisbane Bullets are off to a perfect start.
United followed up Friday's loss on the road to the NZ Breakers with an 87-79 loss to the Adelaide 36ers in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 36ers led by 15 points at the final break and held off a fast-finishing Melbourne to claim their first win of the season after being smashed by Illawarra two days earlier.
For star-studded Melbourne, whose roster was bolstered during the off-season by the addition of import guard Cedric Jackson and Boomers giant David Andersen, it was a case of simply failing to make their shots.
The home side finished with a 37 per cent field goal percentage, compared to Adelaide's 48 per cent.
"It's hard to play defence when you're missing that many shots," coach Dean Demopoulos said.
"Can we do better there? I think so, for sure. Overall, the approach was the way we've trained.
"I want my guys taking those shots when they're open and if they don't take them, they're coming out."
There were promising signs for the 36ers, with gun import Jerome Randle scoring 30 points in a dominant performance after a quiet opening game.
Coach Joey Wright said he had challenged Randle to be more aggressive on the offensive end and it showed.
Randle used his explosive speed and supreme ball-handing ability to drive to the basket time and again.
Elsewhere, the reigning premiers Perth Wildcats regathered after a shock opening loss to the Brisbane Bullets to post a 10-point overtime win against Cairns on Saturday night.
Star import Jaron Johnson bought the Perth Arena crowd to their feet when he dropped a three-pointer to tie the game with just 0.80 seconds remaining and the Wildcats took care of business in extra time.
Two days earlier they were stunned by the Brisbane Bullets, who marked their return to the NBL after an eight-year hiatus with a 72-65 come-from-behind win.
The Bullets scored 19 unanswered points in the third quarter and were led in the scoring department by American imports Torrey Craig (16 points) and Jermaine Beal (14 points).
Brisbane backed it up on Saturday with a hard-fought 77-73 win on the road against Sydney.
The Hawks and Breakers each finished the round with one win against their names, leaving Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns yet to taste victory.