March 28, 2014

Article at SportsNewsFirst

36ers edge towards NBL grand final

THE Adelaide 36ers shut down Chris Goulding after a hot start and were tremendously led by Gary Ervin to beat the Melbourne Tigers in Game 1 of their NBL semi-final series at the Adelaide Arena on Thursday night.

Both the 36ers and Tigers are returning to NBL finals action after significant droughts and it was the Sixers who took a one-game to nil lead in the best of three-game semi-final series with a 101-85 victory on Thursday night in front of a disappointing crowd of just 3865 at Adelaide Arena.

The 36ers are now just one win away from their first grand final appearance in the NBL since winning the championship in 2002 while the Tigers now need to win Game 2 on Sunday and then Game 3 back in Adelaide on Tuesday to get through to their first championship decider since losing to the South Dragons in 2009.

It was the Tigers who got off to a fast start in the contest on Thursday, though, opening up an eight-point lead in the first half of the first quarter before the 36ers steadied.

Goulding alone nailed three bombs from beyond the arc in the first 110 seconds of the game on his way to 13 points for the first quarter.

However, Adelaide was in front 31-26 by the end of the first quarter and they would remain in control of the contest the rest of the evening eventually running out impressive 16-point winners.

Former league MVP Gary Ervin is in his first NBL finals campaign after not previously making the playoffs with Wollongong or Townsville, and showed that he means business on Thursday night.

The import point guard finished the night with 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds on the back of shooting 9-of-15 from the field and 5-of-10 from three-point territory.

Ervin received strong support in the back court by late-season signing Rhys Carter who finished with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists while shooting 5-of-9 from downtown, including some falling from another time zone he was that far out from the basket.

Big man Daniel Johnson also made a solid contribution for the Sixers with 15 points and seven boards also shooting well with 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc.

Anthony Petrie also had 13 points for the 36ers while Brendan Teys scored nine points and captain Adam Gibson eight to go with five assists and some terrific defence on Goulding after quarter-time.

Goulding still did top-score for the Tigers with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists but 13 of his points came in the first quarter and 11 in the game's opening three minutes.

Veteran former 36ers captain and multiple MVP winner Adam Ballinger also had a good game for Melbourne with 15 points while shooting 7-of-9 from the field.

Lucas Walker also finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals for Melbourne with Nate Tomlinson contributing 12 points, 12 assists and six rebounds while Mark Worthington finished with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Game 2 will now take place at Melbourne's Hisense Arena on Sunday with the Tigers needing to win to force a deciding Game 3 back in Adelaide on Tuesday, or else the 36ers will be straight through to the grand final.

Meanwhile, the Game 1 of the other semi-final series will take place on Friday night when the Perth Wildcats host the Wollongong Hawks at Perth Arena.