Perth Wildcats are just one win away from securing a record ninth NBL title after opening up a 2-1 lead over Melbourne in the grand final series.
Star import Terrico White has put on a sizzling shooting display to lift the Perth Wildcats to a dominant 96-67 win over Melbourne in game three of the NBL grand final series.
White scored 31 points, including seven of 10 from long range, to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
The result means United must win game four in Melbourne on Sunday to keep their title hopes alive.
Melbourne showcased their might with a 92-74 win in game two.
But their woeful shooting from long range in game three on Friday night proved costly. United made just 1-of-16 three-point attempts in the first half, and finished the match with four of 27 at 14 per cent.
In contrast, the Wildcats nailed 14 of their 29 attempts.
United sharpshooter Chris Goulding was restricted to five points, while Casper Ware (10) was also well below his usual output. David Barlow (13) and DJ Kennedy (13) tried to fill the void, but it wasn’t nearly enough, with Wildcats skipper Damian Martin producing an exceptional defensive display.
United put a huge emphasis on shutting down Bryce Cotton (16 points), with Ware shadowing his every move. But they didn’t have enough weapons to stop White, who was simply irresistible, especially in the defining third term when the Wildcats outscored Melbourne 28-15.
“I just shoot what’s coming. When I’m feeling it, it’s like the basket is a big trash can,” White said.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman lamented his team’s woeful shooting display.
“The Wildcats made threes tonight,” Vickerman said.
“Fourteen threes to four is the difference right there.”
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson lit a fuse on the eve of the match when he accused some Melbourne players of flopping, and there was plenty of fire throughout the contest.
The Wildcats trailed by for points early in the match, but a 13-1 run helped lift them to a five-point lead by quarter time.
Melbourne’s shooters were almost nonexistent in the first quarter. Goulding failed to score, while Ware’s three points came in the dying seconds from the free-throw line.
The second quarter was a physical arm wrestle with neither side able to break free.
Goulding finally got on the scoresheet with a long-range bomb, but that was his only contribution for the term. Barlow helped fill the breach with 12 points for the first half, but Melbourne’s struggles from three-point land were proving costly.
The Wildcats led by six points at half time, and put the game to bed with a dominant third term. White got hot from three-point land, nailing 4-of-5 of his long-range attempts in his 17-point haul for the term.
The Wildcats led by 19 points at the final change, and there was no coming back for Melbourne from there as White continued the carnage.