Wed, Mar 7, 1:15pm by Staff Writer
Melbourne United have stunned the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland on Monday night, recording an 88-86 overtime win which sends them into the 2017-18 NBL Grand Final.
After a Casper Ware master class in game one, where United defeated the Breakers 88-77 in Melbourne, it was another American import who stole the show in game two.
Josh Boone scored 33 points, including the game-winning putback in overtime on 14 of 19 shooting at Spark Arena.
The Breakers got off to a scintillating start, leading by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, with the bulk of their scoring coming from the 3-point line.
United slowly chipped away at the Breakers lead, and took control for the first time in the match midway through the fourth quarter.
A retiring Kirk Penney added 17 points for the Breakers, including a huge three pointers which catapulted New Zealand back into the lead with under a minute remaining.
Boone split a pair of free throws and a frantic final few seconds followed, with the Breakers spurning two opportunities to win the game in the dying seconds.
Boone was the hero of the overtime period, scoring six of United’s 10 points, but Boone’s game winning basket was not without drama.
His first layup attempt was sensationally blocked by Breakers forward Tom Abercrombie. The ball ricocheted perfectly for Boone who was alone under the basket and scored with just 0.2 seconds on the clock.
Since their 2014 rebranding, United have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NBL, but their second half of the regular season has made them firm favourites to win their first NBL title since 2008.
United at $1.53 favourites at Sportsbet to win the title, with the winner of the Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats awaiting them.
United will have home court advantage for the best of five series, which is se to begin on March 15 or 16 depending on United’s opponent.
The 36ers crushed Perth by 25 points on Saturday night 109-74, yet the Wildcats are $1.78 favourites at home to send the series into a decisive third game in Adelaide. The 36ers are $2.05 at Sportsbet for game two on Friday night.
With a 1-0 advantage, the 36ers are $2.70 to win the NBL title, with Perth out to a whopping $10 at Sportsbet.
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