Melbourne United made big plays on and off the court in their showdown with China at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday.
The mid-winter tour game drew a near capacity 6,888 supporters, many of them for Team China, while former Fremantle Dockers AFL player Craig Moller and returning starters David Andersen and Majok Majok all impressed.
Andersen was scoreless at half time but scored 20 points in the second half and overtime to lead Melbourne United to a 104-94 win in overtime.
Moller (20 points), who played at small forward and Majok (13 points) were constantly involved for Melbourne as was Kyle Adnam (19 points).
China was led by sharp shooting of Wu Qian who scored 22 points and big man Jinqui Hu 17 points.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman said his side’s performance was encouraging.
“We wanted to establish and change some of our behaviours in how we want to play this year,” Vickerman said.
“The charges we took tonight was an indication, that’s a sacrifice play for the rest of your team and to see the rest of the guys sprint to pick that guy up -that was contagious throughout the game.”
Vickerman also praised Moller’s game after playing exclusively in the small forward position.
“He is an instinctive offensive rebounder and you just have to give him a licence to make good decisions to go get it,” Vickerman said.
“We challenged defensively him at one stage tonight and he made some changes in how he defended in the first quarter.
“There are a lot of parts of his game that I like.”
China started stronger and it was little surprise considering their recent game against the NBL All-Australian side.
But Melbourne United soon came to grips with China’s pressure defence as Andersen found Majok Majok open for a dunk, something the big man would repeat twice more to have eight points for the term.
Centre Jinqui Hu was a constant threat but Venky Jois’ spin move in the second last play saw China’s lead cut to 25-24 at quarter time.
After some slow offence mid term, Adnam found some late baskets for Melbourne but China led 43-36 at half time.
Majok started the second half with a dunk and Melbourne’s defence was noticeably more assertive as they cut the lead to a single basket.
Then came the highlight of the term as China star Li Gen and four-time Olympian Andersen both caught fire and went basket for basket.
Both stars had nine points each for the quarter to see Melbourne only down 64-60 at three quarter time.
Bennie Lewis sparked the crowd early in the final term taking a charge and then hitting a trademark pull-up three-pointer as Melbourne took a 71-69 lead setting up a nail-biting finish.
Gen and Qian looked to have team home with two minutes to play and an 84-77 lead.
But Andersen found his range with a three to cut the margin before a China turnover and a foul gave Kyle Adnam two shots.
He missed them both but Melbourne managed to get the loose ball and Andersen nailed a jumper to tie scores at 84-84 with 20 seconds to play.
Qian drove to the basket but his contested shot missed forcing overtime.
In the extra session Melbourne took an early lead and powered to the win.
Chris Goulding (illness) and David Barlow (back spasms) were ruled out on game day.
Majok rolled his ankle in the final term but it appears only a minor injury.
The Brisbane Bullets play Team China on the Gold Coast on Tuesday night.