Josh Boone stood out for Melbourne . (AAP Image/ Hamish Blair)
Josh Boone stood out for Melbourne . (AAP Image/ Hamish Blair)

United too cool for Taipans

NICK Kyrgios was the undisputed King of Hisense Arena during the Australian Open.

His brazen attitude, bold groundstrokes and, prodigious serve whipping fans into frenzy at Melbourne Park.

But in a grand slam first, the NBL emerged a viable second-week drawcard for the Australian Open.

A lively crowd of 7306 watched Melbourne United defeat Cairns Taipans, 79-68, while Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych locked horns some 200m away.

And United aced their end of the bargain, with electric offence and disciplined defence.

But stats aside, the most impressive aspect of United's play in the past 10 matches - nine wins - has been the level of calmness exhibited by Dean Vickerman's men when under duress.

Josh Boone stood out for Melbourne . (AAP Image/ Hamish Blair)
Josh Boone stood out for Melbourne . (AAP Image/ Hamish Blair)

Melbourne is still prone to drifting in and out of games, and it allowed the Taipans to close to within two points after leading by 10 at halftime. But United has grown into a no-blink team.

Whatever the opposition throws, United absorb and counters with purpose.

On Wednesday night, it was Josh Boone (13pts, nine rebounds). The big man, who entered the game under an injury cloud (ankle), was instrumental at both ends of the court.

His two dunks will make the highlights reel but Boone's ability pressure in the paint is second to none in this league.

So much so, the first match-up with Taipans enforcer Nate Jawai lasted only one minute and 35 seconds.

In that time, Jawai registered four points - tick - and three fouls - cross.

Even firebrand Taipans coach Aaron Fearne got into the slam spirit, when he channelled John McEnroe with an "are you serious" sledge at the referees early on.

United’s Casper Ware controls the ball. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
United’s Casper Ware controls the ball. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Taipans, who had beaten Melbourne twice in Cairns this season, threatened in the second half but each time the visitors got close, United responded in kind.

Casper Ware (24pts) once with a step-back three in crunch time.

And again, with two minutes and 37 seconds on the clock, when he stole the ball with the Taipans pressing, charged the length of the court and splashed his third three-pointer to turn a tricky five-point lead into a manageable eight-point buffer.

On Wednesday Melbourne signed former Taipan Chris Patton as an injury replacement for veteran Dave Andersen.

Andersen, who missed four games with plantar fasciitis, could be sidelined for up to three more weeks with a separate foot complaint.

But Patton, the older brother of GWS Giants star Jonathon, did not see any court time.



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