Melbourne United is the 2018 NBL champions, following a 100 – 82 win in the decisive fifth game with the Adelaide 36ers.
It gave Melbourne its first ever win in the NBL title since they became a franchise in 2014, although there were plenty of championships when the team was known as the Melbourne Tigers from 1984 – 2014.
Four, to be exact, in 1993, 1997, 2006 and 2008.
United needed a stunning fourth quarter run to seal the win. Chris Goulding and Casper Ware each contributed 23 points and Goulding walked away with a championship and the honour of being named the NBL Grand Final MVP. Import Casey Prather added 19 points and 11 rebounds in the fifth and deciding game. Prather has two prior championships in the NBL to his credit.
Goulding was ebullient and told the Herald Sun, “The only way you’re getting this ring off is if you chop my fingers off.”
United now has the sort of roster that has spurred dynasty talk, but it could be premature. It will take some keen maneuvering by Melbourne Chief Executive Vince Crivelli to keep his impressive stable of players intact for next and future seasons.
Goulding had words on that topic, as well, saying, “With all professional sports the reality of it sets in, and the reality of it is a lot of guys are off contract. And when you have a successful year, other clubs are going to come looking. But we have some guys that have been everywhere in the world and they love it here in Melbourne. I would love every single one of the guys to come back and try and do it all over again, but I think in the way of culture and the way we’ve set this club up now, we should be expecting success every year.”
At least Coach Dean Vickerman will be back, but Josh Boone might be another question entirely and other players are sure to be receiving attention from the clubs that came up short in the 2017 – 2018 NBL season.