NBL basketball news 2022: Melbourne United v Tasmania JackJumpers game three semi final decider news, score

Matthew Dellavedova has dealt with the pressure of elimination basketball more than most. He’ll need do it again when he leads Melbourne United’s quest to save its season.

Melbourne United would have hoped, after finishing top of the NBL ladder, for a sweep of expansion club Tasmania and a rails run to the grand final. It’s what most outside the club expected.

But the underdog Jackies have torn up the script, matching United in the physicality stakes and, on Saturday night, the clutch stakes, to force a decisive game three in their semi-final series.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ ABOUT BRAD NEWLEY’S QUEST FOR A FIRST NBL TITLE

Captain Chris Goulding told his troops before the series it would be no “cakewalk” and the Jackies have proven that true, both teams walking a fine line as they’ve crashed, bashed and harassed each other. It’s made for a must-watch series, not for its beauty, but for its intensity.

United’s conductor Matthew Dellavedova has played in plenty of games where the pressure is through the roof — his NBA career is well documented.

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United is now in the fight of its life to save its season — Delly says he lives for this stuff.

“There’s nothing like playoffs or finals basketball, everything goes up a level, it’s physical, it’s competitive,” Dellavedova said.

“Those 50-50 balls, they came up with (in game two) so you’ve got to give them credit. Those are the ones we came up with in game one.

“It’s who wants it more — and we’ll be ready to go.”

Coach Dean Vickerman says he’ll prepare his team to better deal with the JackJumpers’ “speed humps” that have curtailed United’s ability to get out and run.

“That’s what they do — it’s something they chart, hitting people and contesting people as they run down the floor,” Vickerman said.

United laid an egg from deep — they made just six of their 34 three-point attempts — and almost half their free throws came up empty. Yet, they only lost by seven points.

“If we can put the ball in the basket a little better — we were under 60 per cent from the foul line and we were 17 per cent from the three,” he said.

“A lot of credit goes to the JackJumpers, but we’ve got to be better and shoot the basketball and create great looks for us.”

The three-time champion coach is looking forward to defending his side’s season in the comforts of its John Cain Arena home.

“We go through the regular season to get to play at home in these big moments and we look forward to seeing a packed arena … bring the kind of energy that we felt (in Tasmania in game two),” he said.

“I love being in situations that challenge you as a coach to be better, challenges you how you coach a team and who you go with in big moments.”

Both teams will play a third game in six days, having battled Thursday and Saturday night — there will be some sore bodies, but Delly was putting on a brave face.

“(I) feel really good — we’ve got great physios, great weights coach and I’ve put a lot of work into my body lifting, so I’m looking forward to game three,” he said.

He’s not the only one, with the eyes of the NBL set to converge on Melbourne Monday night.

Basketball is life for evergreen Newley

Experienced Melbourne United utility Brad Newley says he’s already in the “longevity phase” of his career as he continues his pursuit of a maiden NBL title.

But, at 37, whether or not Melbourne United wins this year’s championship isn’t tied to a decision on his future.

United still needs to win on its home floor to book its spot in the 2022 grand final after splitting the first two games of the semi final series with Tasmania.

Newley, two seasons ago, came close to the ultimate glory with the Sydney Kings — Covid ruined that opportunity — but, on a stacked United team, he is focused on filtering the outside noise and winning the mental battles.

“As you get older, you obviously run out of opportunities, so you have to make the most of them — I’m pretty pumped,” Newley said.

“This team’s experienced with winning from last year, so anything I can add to that is a bonus and who knows how many more chances I’ll get?

“You definitely want to make the most of it, but you don’t want to be too overenthusiastic, you don’t want to blow it before it’s even done.

“You don’t treat it as a normal game, but you’ve got to handle your distractions and get on with it as focused as possible.”

United captain Chris Goulding said Newley’s chip chase was not lost on the group.

“We haven’t really touched on that a hell of a lot but everyone knows why he came to the club and that was to win,” Goulding said.

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind and I think once you get closer to the ultimate goal, you start being more vocal about guys like that and people who you have around the organisation that it means a lot to.

“If we just approach these games by trying to be the best that we can be, those players and parts of the organisation will get their rewards.”

Newley is probably sick of being asked the ‘retirement’ question, but politely says he’ll be on a basketball court for as long as he can.

“As long as I can still contribute to the team, I want to play,” Newley said.

“It’s what I’ve done for my whole life, so I feel if there’s any way I can help United, I’m willing to do it.”

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