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36ers look for overall lift

ADELAIDE will not look to any specific individual to “step up” tomorrow night against Melbourne in the injury-enforced absence of its NBA forward Josh Childress.

“They all will,” 36ers coach Joey Wright said when reflecting on who needed to grab the spotlight with the NBL’s best-of-five Grand Final Series locked at 1-1 and headed for its pivotal Game 3 at Hisense Arena.

“Obviously Ramone (Moore) there has done a great job all year, we have (Anthony) Drmic and (Brendan) Teys still there – we’ve got guys who can step up. Majok (Deng) has shown he can step in and make a difference, so we have guys who can step up.”

United’s injury scares – Casper Ware (hip) and Josh Boone (back) – have been abated, both ready to play, joining Chris Goulding, Casey Prather and Tai Wesley in a formidable starting five.

With Childress out, Wright has two major options – either insert Moore (below) or Matt Hodgson into his starting group.

He categorically ruled Deng out of consideration to start, despite his Sudanese-born athlete delivering 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 16:36 of Game 2 court-time.

“I’ll still let him come off the bench,” Wright said. “I think right now in his development it’s probably better for him to come off the bench.”

With Adelaide guards Nathan Sobey and Shannon Shorter defending Ware and Goulding respectively, Mitch Creek guarding the taller Wesley in the post and Daniel Johnson on Boone, inserting Moore for Childress creates the most minimal disruption to how the 36ers have been rotating.

Moore would go straight to Prather.

Inserting Hodgson, who started for Australia’s FIBA Asia Cup winning team, would put him on Boone, moving Johnson to Wesley and Creek to Prather.

The nice side story is both Moore (as an import) and Hodgson (as a development player) started their NBL careers at United.

Right now though, starting Hodgson appears the less likely of Wright’s potential adjustments, replacing the in-form Childress a difficult challenge.

“He’s a big loss,” Wright conceded of his versatile 203cm import. “Once again, we structured this team so we’re not relying on one person.

“We enjoyed having Josh out there, he’s done a great job, but we’ve definitely got some guys that can step up – I’ve definitely got belief in all the guys.

“We’ve got to rebound and contest the three-point line. They shoot a lot of threes and if that ball’s gonna bounce long, we’ve gotta have everyone rebounding, it’s not just the ‘bigs’. Guards have got to rebound.”

In related news, Boone and Wesley today came to the defence of teammate David Barlow, whose defensive stance on Childress’ one-step move to the hoop on Sunday led to the 36ers’ star’s scapula fracture.

“He is strong and talking about the Childress situation, I just don’t think Josh knew how strong he is,” Wesley said.

“The guy is in the gym every single day, I play against him every single day and he has a forearm that is just - we call him ‘Crow-Barlow’ for a reason.”

GAME 1: Melbourne United 107
(Goulding 26, Ware 20, Boone 17, Prather 13, Wesley 11; Boone 7 rebs; Hooley, Wesley 5 assts) d Adelaide 36ers 96 (Johnson 18, Shorter 16, Creek 14, Childress 12, Hodgson, Moore 10; Creek 9 rebs; Moore, Creek 4 assts) at Hisense Arena. 
GAME 2: Adelaide 36ers 110 (Deng 18, Moore, Creek 17, Johnson 15, Sobey 14, Childress 13, Shorter 10; Creek 9 rebs; Sobey 5 assts) d Melbourne United 95 (Prather 20, Goulding 19, Barlow 13, Wesley 12; Prather 7 rebs; Wesley 3 assts) at Titanium Security Arena. Series tied 1-1.
GAME 3: 7.30pm, Friday, March 23 at Hisense Arena, Melbourne.
GAME 4: 2.30pm, Sunday, March 25, Titanium Security Arena
GAME 5 (If Required): Saturday, March 31, Hisense Arena, Tip-Off time TBA (*All times local.)

Mar 22

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