A renewed commitment to attacking the basket was the key to Melbourne United's comeback NBL win over their cross-town rivals, according to coach Dean Vickerman.
United fell behind by as many as 12 points in the first half of Saturday night's 'Throwdown' clash with South East Melbourne Phoenix, Melo Trimble unable to score a basket in the first half while Shawn Long had racked up more fouls (three) than points (two).
But Melbourne's coaching staff made an adjustment at halftime, instructing their players to attack the basket more and Trimble responded in a big way to inspire a second-half revival.
"We felt the game was being (refereed) that you got rewarded for being aggressive in attacking the paint," Vickerman said after holding on for the 96-95 victory at a sold-out Melbourne Arena.
After the Phoenix enjoyed a 13-9 advantage in first-half foul shots, United's shift in attack saw them finish with 24 free throws for the game, 13 of those coming in the pivotal final quarter.
"We were able to make the change, get our feet in the paint, play with a fair bit of pace after we got some stops and we got our rewards," Vickerman said as United moved ahead 2-1 in their new local rivalry.
Trimble capped the come-from-behind victory by draining the match-winning free throw with two seconds to play, finishing with 22 points to secure United's fifth win in a row.
"We knew we had to attack and be aggressive and that was the whole mindset in the whole second half," Trimble said.
"The foul count went our way when we started being aggressive, they started calling a lot more fouls for us."
The Phoenix only went to the free-throw line twice in the second half but felt they should have had at least one more foul shot after centre Keith Benson (20 points, five blocks) absorbed heavy contact on a dunk that levelled the scores with 13 seconds on the clock.
But the visitors were left reeling when Trimble drove to the basket on United's final possession, drawing a foul from veteran Adam Gibson and winning the match from the charity stripe.
Vickerman praised Trimble's decision making down the stretch along with Shea Ili's efforts at both ends of the floor, the former New Zealand Breakers guard matching strong defence with a season-high 16 points off the bench.
United are hopeful that championship-winning import Casey Prather will be available for next Sunday's home clash with the Brisbane Bullets after missing the Phoenix game with back spasms.
Australian Associated Press