Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman highlighted his squad’s ability to remain calm under pressure as the key to consecutive wins after topping Adelaide on Saturday night.
Down 14 points in the second quarter, United rallied to run out 101-84 winners in front of 8213 fans at Hisense Arena.
“I thought again there was a calmness about the group during that period,” Vickerman said about United’s response to the 36ers’ flying start.
“We continued to score but we were really struggling to get a stop and they scored seven or eight in a row.”
After turning up the defensive intensity, the home side fought back to level the scores by half-time then powered away after the break to record their third victory of the season over the 36ers and improve to a 4-3 win-loss record.
The result sees United leapfrog Adelaide into third place on the NBL ladder and stay in touch with pacesetters New Zealand and Perth.
With poor third-quarter defence and foul trouble contributing to Melbourne’s recent three-match losing streak, Vickerman was thrilled with his side’s improved play after the break.
“That was the defence that we need to play at critical periods,” Vickerman said.
“I thought we were locked in, we were aggressive and did it without fouling.”
Casey Prather stood out for United in the opening half and led all scorers with 25 points while Casper Ware took charge after halftime to finish with 21 points.
Shooting guard Chris Goulding played his fourth game back following his emergency appendectomy on the eve of the new season and feels his combination with Ware and Prather is starting to click.
“It’s good to be out on the floor with them,” Goulding said after the match.
“We had a really stagnated preseason with who was on the court at different times and just really didn’t have enough time to create that connection.”
Now that the squad is at full strength and establishing regular rotations, Goulding is excited to be playing alongside multiple scoring threats that could do the job on any given night.
“There’s going to be nights when Casey and Casper do their thing and everyone pitches in.
There’s going to be nights where it could be me, it could be Dave (Andersen) … we’ve got such a loaded roster. I think we are really starting to understand that.”
Melbourne now prepare to face a Cairns Taipans side reeling after a heart-breaking home loss to the Breakers on an Edgar Sosa triple in the final second.
“They wouldn’t have liked what happened here a couple of days ago,” Goulding said about Melbourne’s 22-point win over Cairns last Thursday night.
“Traditionally they are a really good team on their home floor so it’s another big challenge for us.”