Ili shines as Melbourne end NBL losing run

December 10, 2022 11:08 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Returning guard Shea Ili has provided plenty of spark as Melbourne United snapped their five-match NBL losing streak with a convincing 104-88 home win over Brisbane Bullets.

The result ensured eighth-placed Melbourne (6-10) avoided the ignominy of losing six successive games in the same season for the first time.

Boasting a full-strength roster with Ili back after missing the five losses with concussion and a vestibular disorder, and centre Isaac Humphries playing after COVID kept him out of the last two games, United displayed the type of firepower that could push them back into finals contention.

New Zealand playmaker Ili racked up 15 points on 80 per cent from the field and filled the stat sheet with four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

He added rhythm to Melbourne's offence with Chris Goulding and Rayjon Tucker each bagging a 20-point haul and Michael Lee 18.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes added eight points and 10 assists off the bench and Humphries contributed six points, with Melbourne shooting 57 per cent from the field.

Ninth-placed Brisbane (4-9) never led at any stage and slumped to a fourth loss In their last five games.

Nathan Sobey tallied a team-high 24 points for Brisbane and Gorjok Gak added 15, his highest NBL score.

Ili got United off to a flying start scoring five straight points to push his team to a 9-2 lead inside the first two minutes.

"Its great to have him (Ili) back," Goulding told ESPN.

"Everyone Is putting pressure on him to come and be the saviour but that's a big ask for someone who's been out of basketball for a long time.

"But just him being around and the way that he leads out on the floor, we stand taller with him around."

Melbourne were 11 up just over seven minutes into the game and ahead by 13 in the second quarter.

The Bullets threatened briefly after a 10-3 run in their favour at the start of the second half got them to within two points, as Melbourne took four minutes of the third quarter to score.

The irrepressible Ili hit a three-pointer just before the end of the third quarter to give United an eight-point lead heading into the last.

The Bullets scored the first two points of the fourth quarter to get within six, but Melbourne shot away to lead by as much as 20, as they cruised to a drought-breaking win.


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