Melbourne United slumps to second defeat of weekend
BASKETBALL: Title favourite Melbourne United completed a miserable first round of the NBL championship with an eight-point loss to the 36ers in Melbourne.
Last season United won its first nine games but this campaign has begun in the worst possible way with a loss in New Zealand on Friday followed by this defeat.
The 36ers bounced back from a big defeat to the Illawarra Hawks on their home court to win 87-79 at Hisense Arena.
Adelaide was superbly led by captain Mitch Creek but it was American Jerome Randle who was the star performer, knocking down a game-high 30 points before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Randle was superb in the first half, bagging 18 points in the first 20 minutes.
The point guard received great back-up from big man Daniel Johnson (17 points, seven rebounds), Brendan Teys (11 points) and Eric Jacobsen (11 points).
Cedric Jackson (15 points, seven assists) and Ramone Moore (15 points) were best for United, while Todd Blanchfield added 11 points.
Melbourne United and Adelaide meet again, this time at Adelaide Arena, on Friday night.
While Melbourne's season started disappointingly, the Brisbane Bullets celebrated their return to the NBL for the first time since 2008 in style, with wins over Perth Wildcats on Thursday in Brisbane and the Kings in Sydney on Saturday night.
Coach Andrej Lemanis said it would take a while for his team to gel but was happy to get the victories.
"Things are going to be clunky for a while, and most teams will go through that, so while that's happening it's good to get a couple of wins,” Lemanis said post-game.
"We've got some veterans and we made some plays down the stretch that got us over the line
"The defensive end we're giving the appropriate effort and it's giving us a chance.”
Scores: (home team first) Bullets 72 Wildcats 65, Breakers 71 Melbourne United 76, Hawks 122 36ers 88, Kings 73 Bullets 77, Wildcats 84 Taipans 74, Melbourne United 79 36ers 87