Sydney’s Casper Ware continues to produce his best against Melbourne United as the much-anticipated battle of the bigs falls flat.
Former fan favourite Casper Ware has come back to haunt Melbourne United again as the Sydney Kings reaffirmed their status as genuine NBL title contenders.
After spending the best part of three seasons at Melbourne and helping steer United to the 2017-18 championship, Ware took his talents to the harbour city as he became a major off-season signing for the Sydney Kings.
Coming into Saturday’s clash against United averaging close to 21 points per game, the two-time All NBL First Team selection produced another match-winning performance as Sydney ended a seven-match losing streak against United in Melbourne.
Following a season-best 34-point haul in a tight loss to United on Melbourne Cup Eve and 27 points in their home victory in round nine, the 29-year-old American piled on 28 points to spearheaded Sydney’s 104-81 win at Melbourne Arena.
“We let him score the first six points of the game and he’s feeling good right from the get-go,” Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman said after Ware’s efforts helped the Kings improve their win-loss record to 12-3.
“His percentage against us is a lot different to the rest of the league right now.
“Whether that’s his motivation to get it done or we are not covering him as well as we should, we’ve got to make a change in that one and limit his shots better if we want a chance at beating them.”
United struggled to break down Sydney’s defence from the outset as they fell behind by 13 points in the first quarter, a lead they would never seriously threaten to pull back for the rest of the game.
While Ware won out in his matchup against Melbourne point guard Melo Trimble, the battle between elite centres Andrew Bogut and Shawn Long was cut short due to foul trouble.
Bogut played less than 10 minutes before fouling out with seven points and three rebounds while Long was forced out of the game after scoring 18 points in 15 minutes.
United’s backup centre Jo Lual Acuil also fouled out in 13 minutes and while Vickerman was happy to concede his side’s defensive play could improve, he shared his concerns about how the big men were being officiated.
“I don’t think anyone really wants to see that, they want to see (Bogut and Long) battle each other,” he said.
“We’ve got some really good big guys in our league, we want to keep them and we want to keep that style of basketball here as well.”
Melbourne import Casey Prather appears likely to miss Monday’s night away clash with the Illawarra Hawks after picking up a hamstring injury in the second half.