The South East Melbourne Phoenix have spoiled the homecoming of NBL master coach Brian Goorjian with a thumping 98-82 victory over The Hawks.
The Hawks’ unbeaten start to the season came to a crashing halt at the State Basketball Centre as the Phoenix turned it on in their first appearance at home with their biggest win of the season.
The six-time NBL champion Goorjian coached 510 games during 16 seasons in Melbourne, winning titles with the South East Melbourne Magic and South Dragons, but his latest squad had no answer for the offensive firepower of the Phoenix.
“There’s a formula on how we’ve won – you’ve got to win those energy points, those effort points,” Goorjian said after the Phoenix got the better of his side in rebounding (44-40) and steals (7-4).
“Tonight all those areas we lost and I thought we just looked a step off it.”
The Phoenix led by six points at halftime before stunning the undefeated Hawks with a 35-22 third-quarter blitz, Cam Gliddon drilling five three-pointers to put the result beyond doubt with one quarter to play.
“He’s a lights-out shooter,” Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said after the former Brisbane Bullets guard found his range following a quiet start to the season.
“Even when the shots aren’t dropping, the job’s getting done at the defensive end as well as creative defensively for others.
He was able to get away in that zone a little bit (in the third quarter) … that’s always going to come from an elite shooter.”
Gliddon finished alongside four of his Phoenix teammates with a team-high 15 points, Ben Moore adding 14 rebounds to complete his third double-double of the season.
The Hawks made an ideal start thanks to an early 10-0 scoring run, Cam Bairstow making a welcome return from a leg injury to rack up nine first-quarter points, but the Phoenix steadied to level the scores at the first break.
Strong defence and superior rebounding allowed the home side to outscore the Hawks 20-11 in the first eight minutes of the second period but timely baskets from Tyler Harvey and Sam Froling cut the Phoenix advantage to 45-39 at halftime.
Gliddon connected on back-to-back triples early in the third quarter and while a quick flurry from Justin Simon gave the Hawks some hope, the Boomers guard kept delivering from long distance to hand the Phoenix an unassailable 80-61 edge.
The Phoenix improve to a 3-3 record as they prepare for two matches against the Perth Wildcats in the space of four days at the State Basketball Centre.