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Australia

Trimble says he will sacrifice offence to stop Roberson in Throwdown

Melbourne United guard Melo Trimble is willing to go scoreless if he can shut down South East Melbourne Phoenix import John Roberson on Saturday.

The two Melbourne clubs play their third "Throwdown" game at Melbourne Arena on Saturday, with the games being crammed into the early rounds due to the need to get both teams through the bulk of their home games before the Australian Open takes over the stadium in late December.

Melo Trimble is focused on his defensive game ahead of Melbourne United's clash with the Phoenix.

Melo Trimble is focused on his defensive game ahead of Melbourne United's clash with the Phoenix.Credit:Getty Images

Trimble was United's leading scorer with 32 points in Sunday's 109-90 win over the Adelaide 36ers at Melbourne Arena, but Roberson has proven one of the league's most impressive shooters this season, so Trimble will focus fully on his defensive assignment on Saturday.

Melbourne have shared their major defensive assignments between different players this season, but Trimble has staked his claim for first go at Roberson and this season he has pushed himself to become a better defender and use his speed to harass opponents defensively.

This game will decide the season series between the two clubs, who both sit in the top four and have split their first two games.

"I felt like I played pretty good defence last time and that's a challenge I'm up for, playing defence against him," Trimble said after Sunday's win.

"It's not about scoring [for me], he's such a good scorer and shoots the way he shoots so I don't mind not scoring, not shooting as I just want to stop him as much as I can and help us win."

The Phoenix (5-2 win-loss) ended the round in second place on the ladder, while Melbourne (5-4) moved up to fourth following Sunday's win.

Surprisingly, four of the NBL's top five leading scorers come from either United or Phoenix, with Shawn Long (21.8 points per game), Trimble (21.6), Goulding (21) and Phoenix star Mitch Creek (21) all making strong starts to the season. Roberson is also in the top 10 with 20.1 points per game.

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Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman has repeatedly challenged his players to lift their defence and with the team on a four-game winning streak he wants to see them continue to push themselves at that end.

"We challenged the leaders today to say this is a game to stand up, we challenged some of our Kiwi players to give us some extra effort against New Zealand on Thursday," Vickerman said.

"We've had this patch where we have done some really good things and it's been consistent with us all season that we've had these lulls after that.

"So I was a little nervous today about whether this game could be a little lull and I wanted them to really drive us when things weren't going our way.

"I thought Dave Barlow, Macca [Mitch McCarron] and Chris Goulding at times really did that and kept the composure of the group moving forward."

Melbourne United play South East Melbourne Phoenix at Melbourne Arena on Saturday at 5.30pm, the Phoenix also host Adelaide 36ers at Melbourne Arena next Monday at 7.30pm.

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