Caleb Agada’s allround masterclass at both ends of the court has propelled Melbourne United to an 82-68 NBL win over the Sydney Kings.
United owed their third successive victory primarily to Nigeria’s Tokyo Olympian Agada, who stuffed the stat sheet at Qudos Bank Arena with 24 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and four blocks – all game highs.
“What Caleb did was pretty amazing … quite an incredible allround game from him,” Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman said.
“Our offence was OK in the first quarter but once we applied the pressure, we held them to 14 (in the second term) and started playing the basketball we’d been playing the last couple of games.”
Agada’s backcourt partner Chris Goulding (20 points) shook off a scoreless opening term to help Melbourne slowly strangle the Kings who matched the visitors early before wilting.
Desperate to atone for their disastrous start the last time the two sides met 10 days ago – when Sydney conceded the first 26 points and a 5-34 quarter-time deficit – the Kings led 26-24 at the first break.
The home side’s advantage stretched to 34-27 midway through the second stanza before Goulding splashed three straight triples and single-handedly outscored Sydney 13-3 across four frenetic minutes to push United ahead 44-40 at half-time.
Import Jarell Martin (17 points, nine boards) played a lone hand for the Kings in the third as Melbourne’s buffer stretched to 66-59 at three-quarter-time.
Four minutes passed in the fourth quarter before either side could register a field goal – Matthew Dellavedova’s only one of the match.
But with Agada at the forefront, United broke the shackles, scoring regularly again while completely suffocating the life out of the Kings, who hit 13 of their first 24 shots, but just 11 of their next 56.
“Credit to Melbourne, they stagnated us with their pressure,” said Sydney coach Chase Buford, who will seek clarity from the league on some no-calls that went against his side from the referees.
“I thought it was more the excessive physical and contact that wasn’t called that really bothered us more than their (Melbourne’s) size.
“But when they’re not calling it you’ve got to play through it and we didn’t do that good enough.”