Three players charged with headbutting following Friday night’s spiteful NBL clash between Adelaide and Melbourne United are free to play in game four of the grand final series, which is a must-win match for the 36ers.
The NBL has confirmed both clubs have entered early guilty pleas over the incidents that marred the match, which was won by Melbourne in front of a home crowd, 101 points to 98.
The 36ers’ Nathan Sobey was involved in all three incidents — twice on the receiving end, the first time from Melbourne’s Tai Wesley and later from Casey Prather.
In the third instance, Sobey clashed heads with Prather, sparking a melee at half time.
Sobey was then ejected from the game, costing the 36ers their momentum.
All three players were facing one-match bans but have accepted $1,000 fines, meaning they are free to play when the two sides resume hostilities at Adelaide Arena on Sunday afternoon.
An NBL spokesman described the incidents as “low-level”.
Sobey and eight other players were fined additional sums over the melee, while a player from each side was cited for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Star forward Mitch Creek was reluctant to comment about the clashes after the match but remains upbeat about his side’s chances, despite the 36ers struggling to beat Melbourne this season.
“We understand exactly where our talent lies and that’s with all 12 players so we just have to go out and continue to play great basketball,” he said.
“We’ll be fine considering how the rest of the games have gone.”
Melbourne leads the grand final series 2-1, meaning the 36ers have to win on Sunday to keep the best-of-five series alive.