Phoenix stave off defiant Bullets in NBL

Fraser Barton |

South East Melbourne Phoenix have staved off the defiant Brisbane Bullets for a 98-94 NBL win at home off the back of strong performances from MVP front-runner Mitch Creek and Ryan Broekhoff.

Bouncing back from a tough derby loss to Melbourne United on Thursday, the third-placed Phoenix (9-5) kept the Bullets (5-9) at arms length throughout Saturday’s contest but the visitors rallied late to keep the game alive to the final possession.

Down by two with 11.9 seconds remaining, Bullets coach James Duncan drew up a great play to get Robert Franks (23 points) open, but the American’s three-point attempt wouldn’t fall.

Broekhoff was fouled on the rebound and iced the game at the stripe to give his side a much needed home win and hand Brisbane their sixth loss from their last seven outings.

The Phoenix guard finished with 18 points on 4-7 from deep, while Creek had 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Veteran sharpshooter Cam Gliddon provided wonderful spark off the bench for the Phoenix against his former team, tallying 20 points on a perfect 7/7 from the field and 6-6 from beyond the arc.

Brisbane fought hard all game to stay within reach of the Phoenix, tieing the scores at 59-59 early in the third term, but their stops on defence couldn’t transition to vital buckets down the stretch as the Phoenix held on to win in their sixth game in 14 days. 

“Brisbane really came strong at us today, we were just hanging in there from a physcial standpoint,” Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said.

“In the last time-out I’m looking at the guys and they just looked jaded, they looked fatigued and and they hung on.

“So I’m proud of them for that.”

Duncan said he was proud of the resilience on show from his Bullets, and challenged them to persist as the season continues. 

“Tonight wasn’t one of our best defensive efforts like the last two games, but you’re playing one of the top teams with a lot of weapons,” said Duncan.

“And all we could ask for was an opportunity to win the game at the end, and where we were able to get a stop and a rebound. 

“We’ll chop up the tape and then see where we can improve because there were breakdowns, especially in the first half.

“But I can’t fault the effort, I think everybody has seen that over the course of the last three games. The challenge is to continue to do that for the rest of the season.”