Melbourne United pips Tasmania JackJumpers 88-86 to force NBL championship decider

Melbourne United’s Shea Ili drives to the basket in Hobart on Thursday night's thriller.

Melbourne United’s Shea Ili drives to the basket in Hobart on Thursday night's thriller. Photo: Getty

Melbourne United has sent the NBL championship series to a deciding game, with a nail-biting 88-86 win over Tasmania JackJumpers in enemy territory.

Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series, United held its nerve at Hobart’s MyState Bank Arena on Thursday night with Matthew Dellavedova sinking the deciding shot with 11 seconds on the clock.

Dellavedova, a 2016 NBA champion with Cleveland, nailed a lay-up to put Melbourne ahead 87-86.

Tasmania had a possession on the attack in the dying seconds but turned the ball over with United’s Ian Clark getting to the free-throw line to seal the deal.

The fifth and deciding game will be held at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Tasmania is gunning for its maiden title in just its third season, while United is chasing its second championship success in four competitions.

Clark top scored for Melbourne with 18 points, while Luke Travers had a lively game with a game-high 11 rebounds and 17 points.

Jack McVeigh was immense for Tasmania with 28 points and seven rebounds after his match-winning effort from beyond the three-point line in game three.

Melbourne took a 67-66 lead into the final quarter in a game where neither side was able to pull away.

Both teams were sloppy in a frantic first term in which Melbourne was just 30 per cent from the field.

Tasmania had a 20-17 lead at quarter-time but found itself behind when Melbourne went on a nine-point run early in the second.

JackJumpers’ import Jordon Crawford sunk a three to end United’s run before the hosts went on a 10-point run of their own.

McVeigh started strongly and had 18 points by half-time, while teammate Milton Doyle came to life early in the third after a scoreless two quarters.

In a tit-for-tat third period United’s Chris Goulding hit crucial back-to-back threes to level at 55-55.


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