Teammate steals Dellavedova’s thunder

3 weeks ago 14
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Matthew Dellavedova was solid in his first-ever NBL game but Melbourne United teammate Jo Lual-Acuil was the real hero of the afternoon.

    Matthew Dellavedova’s grand return to Australia has been overshadowed by a jaw-dropping individual performance from Melbourne United teammate Jo Lual-Acuil.

    In the first game of both Dellavedova’s United career and this year’s NBL Blitz pre-season tournament, Lual-Acuil stole the former NBA champion’s thunder by chalking up a staggering 37 points to go with 11 rebounds as United ran out 90-84 winners over the New Zealand Breakers.

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    Looking once-and-for-all to have shaken off the neck and concussion concerns that plagued his last NBA season, Dellavedova held his own in his maiden NBL hitout.

    His six assists were the most of any player on either side, and he registered two of United’s three steals.

    In the week, coach Dean Vickerman said he was hopeful that the United coaching staff had managed Dellavedova well enough to play 28-30 minutes of game time on his return to the court. Crucially, he proved he was more than up to that task on Saturday.

    It was the towering Lual-Acuil who was the hero, though — the reigning NBL Sixth Man Of The Year worked tirelessly in his 29:30 minutes of gametime to show exactly why United was so keen to re-sign him for the 2021/22 season.

    He’ll be crucial to the side’s hopes of defending its NBL title and lifting the trophy for the third time under Vickerman.

    For its next match of the Blitz tournament, Melbourne United meets the Sydney Kings at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre on Monday night.

    Before that, basketball fans will get their first look at the NBL’s newest franchise, the Tasmania Jackjumpers, who go head-to-head with the Brisbane Bullets on Sunday afternoon for their first-ever game.

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