United down Breakers in NBL Cup thriller
Melbourne United have set a franchise record as they extended their barnstorming start to the NBL season with a tough 87-84 victory over New Zealand Breakers.
United outscored the Breakers in three of the four quarters during Friday's clash at John Cain Arena on their way to notching their best start to a season after 11 games with a 10-1 win-loss record.
The individual brilliance of guard Tai Webster kept the Breakers in the contest but Jock Landale (23 points) and Mitch McCarron (17 points, seven assists, seven rebounds) guided Melbourne home in a tense finish.
The result puts United level with Perth Wildcats at the top of the NBL Cup table, both teams sitting on 23.5 points with a 4-1 record.
"We want to win this tournament and we've put ourselves in a position with three games to go that we are level. The goal for this group is to try and win everything," coach Dean Vickerman declared.
United's plan to pressure the Breakers throughout paid dividends despite a 32-point masterclass from Webster.
"We wanted to keep the pace pretty high and we just felt over the course of the game if we continued to rotate bodies, make it hard for Corey (Webster) and Tai that at some point we might be able to get a margin," Vickerman said.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir admitted the pressure took a toll.
"We probably ran out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter," said Shamir.
"(United) scored more points (in the fourth) than the rest, I think our (defensive) coverages were pretty good for three quarters."
Tai Webster came out firing with 14 points in nine minutes before picking up his third foul early in the second quarter and sitting out the rest of the half.
But after United closed the first term on a 9-2 finish to lead 23-20, the Breakers did enough in a dour second term to tie the game 39-39 at halftime.
Neither side could press home their advantage in the third quarter, United building a narrow 59-58 advantage but the championship favourites stepped up to make the decisive break midway through the final term.
Landale nailed a three-pointer and Scotty Hopson struck a killer blow against his former club by firing in five quick points as United grabbed a 75-66 edge to set up the win.
Hopson finished with 16 points but limped off in the closing stages to put him in doubt for United's meeting with the Brisbane Bullets on Sunday.
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