Bullets bring fear factor to NBL rivals
BASKETBALL: Boomers star Chris Goulding is prepared for a tough time when the Brisbane Bullets arrive in Melbourne tonight.
Melbourne United's Goulding said the likes of Brisbane's Daniel Kickert, Cameron Bairstow, Tom Jervis and Anthony Petrie were hard to match up on inside, but said there were also others who could cause the home side some real problems at Hisense Arena.
"It's going to be interesting,” Goulding said.
"They are front-court heavy with Kicks (Kickert), Bairstow, Jervis, Petrie - the list goes on, I am sure I have forgotten someone - and Mitch Young, who is playing fantastic.
"They are very interior dominant but then if you focus too much on that then guys like (Jermain) Beal and Torrey Craig can cut you to pieces.”
Goulding said the Bullets, back in the NBL for the first time since disbanding in 2008, were likely to be one of the top sides this season and had already shown just how good they can be after taking a 2-1 win-loss record from their first three games of the campaign to sit second on the ladder behind the Sydney Kings.
"It's a little bit scary we are talking about them like that this early in the season after having not been around last year,” Goulding said.
"But that's credit to the program they have put together and the coaches and the staff they went out and got.”
United, the pre-season title favourite, lost its first two games of this campaign but won the next two.
It has star players Cedric Jackson, David Andersen and Todd Blanchfield in its ranks alongside Goulding, with Blanchfield scoring eight out of nine three-pointers against the Hawks on Sunday.
The Bullets' round-two clash with Adelaide last week heralded the return of ex-Chicago Bulls big man Bairstow.
While the Brisbane team lost for the first time this season, coach Andrej Lemanis saw enough from the power forward, who dislocated a shoulder at the Rio Olympics, to predict a bright future for the team.
"He showed what he's going to be able to do for us. He's certainly a good presence around the rim and moves well off the ball and he's great on the glass,” Lemanis said of Bairstow, who nabbed 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
"It's going to take us a while to find our rhythm with Cameron, we haven't had a pre-season with him ... you then need to find a rhythm of how the game will unfold and how we play best together with all the pieces in place.”
There was disappointment in the Bullets camp that they couldn't close the game out against the 36ers after it went into overtime.
Kickert said that was something the team was going have to improve if it is to get something from the road trip to Melbourne tonight.
"It's something we're hoping to hang our hat on, having that resilience down the stretch to hold on to games, or at least stay in them and then come back and get the win down the stretch,” he said.
"Unfortunately that didn't go our way in the fourth quarter and we lost some of that poise.”
In the other game tonight, the ladder-leading Sydney Kings will travel to Auckland to play last year's runners-up, the New Zealand Breakers.
The Kings have won two from three but will need to keep Kirk Penney quiet from long range to make it three straight victories.