<
>

Chris Goulding fires as Melbourne United crush New Zealand Breakers

Chris Goulding has drilled seven three-pointers as Melbourne United beat the winless New Zealand Breakers 83-60, ensuring the Kiwi club's worst start to a NBL season.

United outscored the Breakers 31-17 in the fourth quarter of Sunday's clash at Melbourne's John Cain Arena to consign the Breakers to an 0-5 record for the first time.

United's defensive pressure restricted the Breakers to 33 per cent shooting, including 4-of-22 from three-point range, just three days after they held the Sydney Kings to their lowest score in franchise history.

The long-range shooting of Goulding (21 points) helped swing the contest in Melbourne's favour in the second half while Caleb Agada followed his player-of-the-match performance against the Kings with a 20-point outing.

The defending champions improved their season start to 2-2.

Coach Dean Vickerman praised his squad's defence as they celebrated the return of promising forward Jack White from an Achilles injury with their 11th win over the Breakers in their last 12 encounters.

"There's a real commitment about our pressure and I think now we've shown that the group is fully back and we've got good depth," coach Dean Vickerman said.

"We just need to play as hard as we can and a lot of that is at the defensive end - do your job and then the next man comes in."

The Breakers struggled to keep pace early, Agada helping United pile on 10 fast-break points in the first quarter on their way to a 21-14 advantage, though Yanni Wetzell's touch around the basket kept the Breakers within reach.

The Breakers responded in the second period by putting a halt to United's running game and winning the rebounding battle, the home side needing a late Agada basket to take a 34-31 lead into the main break.

Goulding broke free after halftime by opening the third quarter with a long bomb then adding two more triples as United's advantage reached double digits.

Ahead 52-43 heading into the final term, reserve big man Ariel Hukporti added some key baskets and White capped his comeback with a tip-in to extend United's lead to 68-55 midway through the quarter.

Backing up from Friday's heartbreaking one-point overtime loss to Illawarra, Breakers coach Dan Shamir felt his side faded in the second half.

They must now attempt to open their winning account against newcomers Tasmania Jackjumpers on Boxing Day.

"Anybody who has been in a sports team understands the emotions and how tough days like these are, and that makes every game huge," Shamir said about his squad's winless start.

"Even if that stretch happens somewhere during the season it's a different story but it happened to us in the beginning and every game is very big, huge for us."