They’re going the distance for NBL fame
IT comes down to this.
Forty minutes of playoff basketball to decide the NBL champion.
It is all that matters for Melbourne United after Sunday's 90-81 loss to an inspired Adelaide 36ers at Titanium Security Stadium.
Wipe the slate clean, the series currently locked at 2-2, the NBL grand final will be decided in Melbourne on Saturday night.
Momentum, if only slightly, rests with Adelaide after the hosts escaped a mighty second-half scare to keep the series alive, less than 24 hours after the NBL laid 14 charges following mid-court melees at halftime and fulltime of Game 3.
It capped a tumultuous week for Adelaide, after losing Josh Childress (shoulder) for the series and having head coach Joey Wright fined handsomely for questioning the integrity of the referees.
If there is one thing they do well in the City of Churches, apart from Barossa Valley and the pink-ball Test, it is milking the "us against them" mentality.
Less said about the cricket the better.
The fans did their job, packing out the suburban stadium, and the 36ers followed suit on the hardwood floor.
36ers firebrand Nathan Sobey, who was ejected in Game 3 for his part in the half-time melee, sparked the hosts, while Daniel Johnson, Mitch Creek, Majok Deng and Shannon Shorter kept the scoreboard ticking over towards the 24-point halftime margin.
United had only themselves to blame for the ambush, a poor shooting display only made worse by an expanding foul count which saw Tai Wesley, Josh Boone and David Barlow exit before the final buzzer.
Melbourne threatened later in the piece, getting to within four points deep in the last term but Adelaide weathered the Casey Prather-led charge.
Prather, looking for a third successive title in the NBL in as many seasons, was brilliant with 23 points and six rebounds.