Thursday 12 January 2017 10:59 AM Melbourne United were forced to go to their supporting cast on Thursday night and the results were promising despite a loss to league leaders Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Arena.
Starters Chris Goulding (ankle) and Todd Blanchfield (delayed concussion) plus import Ramone Moore (calf) all missed the game leaving emerging guard Kyle Adnam to step into the starting lineup and veterans David Barlow, Tai Wesley and Casper Ware to take the bulk of the scoring load.No way round: Casper Ware of Melbourne United. Adelaide were just too strong for the visitors. Photo: Daniel Kalisz
Ware came in as the league's leading scorer but he was kept to 12 points although Barlow (14 points), Adnam (14 points) and forward Tai Wesley (13 points) all stood tall despite their side falling away badly in the final term to lose 100-73.
Ware was struggling with a mild ankle sprain in the second half and was taken out as a precaution in the final four minutes to play - unless more damage is discovered he will be expected to suit up next game.Sixer Anthony Drmic on the way to a 100-73 win over Melbourne United in Adelaide on Thursday night. Photo: Daniel Kalisz
Despite the loss, Melbourne's thrashing of the Sixers on New Year's Day means they have won the season series against Adelaide which ends with two wins each but Melbourne ahead on points.
Sixers guard and Warrnambool native Nathan Sobey made up for an illness ridden performance last time against Melbourne with 32 points, five rebounds and six assists while import Jerome Randle was scoreless with three minutes to play in the third term but he caught fire late to finish with 19 points.
While Adelaide won on Thursday night, Melbourne United has inadvertently put the acid test on the the NBL's player registration rules after losing import Ramone Moore to a season-ending injury.
Melbourne announced on Thursday night Moore would miss the rest of the season after injuring his calf against Illawarra Hawks last week, he had been listed as playing by the club up until a few hours before the game.
It's understood Melbourne signed and registered a replacement import for Moore before they took the court on Thursday night even though the replacement won't be ready to suit up until Saturday's clash with Cairns Taipans in Melbourne.
United had to have the player registered before tip off in Adelaide as NBL rules state clubs can't register new players once they have played 75 per cent of their games.
But as long as the player is registered in time, he only needs to play seven games (25 per cent of season) to qualify for the finals.
The Sixers game was Melbourne's 21st of 28 games meaning United had to have a player signed and he will have to suit up against the Taipans.
It's believed a number of clubs are questioning whether the current rule is best which could lead to calls for a more definitive procedure such as a cut off date or cut off round for new signings.
Goulding and Blanchfield will have fitness tests ahead of the Cairns game which Melbourne will be desperate to win as the Taipans are below them and scrapping to remain in the race for the top four.
Melbourne United play Cairns Taipans at the State Netball