United go 1-0 up
Melbourne United held off Perth Wildcats by three points, 73-70, to win the first game of the five match series in the NBL.
GAME ONE ✅#TimeToUnite
— Melbourne United (@MelbUnitedHQ) June 18, 2021
In a tense and high-quality encounter, it was the third quarter which proved to be decisive as United turned around a four point deficit at half-time to lead by seven going into the final quarter. Jesse Wagstaf, Perth’s captain, had a shot on the buzzer to tie the game but missed and Melbourne secured the win.
Wildcats were without key man Luke Travers, who was ruled out on the day of the game, as well as Bryce Cotton, but they made a good start to the match.
They led 35-31 at half-time with Blanchfield their star man, making seven rebounds. But their lack of depth and injury problems were punished as the hosts took advantage with an excellent third quarter.
The match looked over when Melbourne opened up a 10 point lead with 2 and a half minutes to go but the visitors responded brilliantly and reduced the deficit to two points to set up a dramatic finish. United held on to go 1-0 up in the series, ahead of Sunday’s meeting.
Chris Goulding, who was Grand Final MVP when Melbourne won the championship, was influential once again – scoring 23 points, including five three pointers.
Jock Landale also added 17 points and seven rebounds for Dean Vickerman’s side.