Jock Landel’s move to the NBA predicted devastation and depression for Melbourne United, but NASA forgot that there was a readymade replacement on the roster.
After two defeats at the start of the season, Naira was bathing in the fight for the reigning champions.
But, fMoving towards the fifth victory in a row, those same people have started eating their word – And a big reason why the guy who speeds up his game when Landell is running his business for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA.
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Joe Lewell-Aquile has been a consistent force in midfield for United throughout the season, reaching career heights across the board while playing gatekeeper for the best defense in the NBL.
Friday night’s matchup with New Zealand was billed as a clash between the two most advanced men in the league, Lewell-Aquile and breakers gun Yani Weitzel.
This turned out to be a one-sided affair, with the Lual-Acuil making a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double 89-78 win to mince the Kiwis.
Not that you get any hype from a 27 year old.
“I wasn’t going to Yanni, we were just taking what the defense was giving us,” said Luel-Aquil.
“He’s a great player, but I wasn’t against him. It was United against the Breakers.”
If you’ve been around a United game and heard Lewell-Aquil’s jaws with some of his opponents – even the owners of the odd opposing team – you know there’s probably more to him than meets the eye.
The JLA has another marquee meeting on Sunday when the United Front is up against Illawara Hawks and wide boomer Duop Ryatt.
Fellow Sudanese Reth – and Illawara – have a different proposition. The 211cm tower will pull Lual-Acuil into the three-point arc and use his athleticism on the defensive end for the Hawks, who have lost only once in five outings this season.
Surrounded by scoring machines from Tyler Harvey, Justinian Jesup and Antonius Cleveland, and running partners on the front court, Sam Furling, Riath and Hawks will believe they have the firepower to build a united defense that keeps teams in the league’s best 71 points every night.
In a team match with Pole Philosophy – and Dean Wickerman and Brian Gurzian’s two master coaches – expect fireworks.