The South East Melbourne Phoenix remain undefeated in their NBL history after blowing away the Brisbane Bullets on Sunday evening, showcasing a sparkling chemistry which is rare for a startup franchises.
Against the Bullets, they powered away in the second half to win 113-94, with John Roberson nearly etching his name in the record books with a dazzling display of outside shooting.
Roberson would lead the Phoenix with 30 points, a game-high point tally that included a scorching hot 9-for-11 mark from beyond the arc, falling just one shy of the NBL record for most three-point makes in the 40-minute game era.
"I'm not worried about records man, as long as we get the win," Roberson said with a smile postgame.
That single selfless remark is exactly what has come to be expected from the upstart team, which has surprised many in claiming victories against two expected championship contenders in Melbourne United and the Bullets.
"The players bought in, there's trust there that we have built pretty quickly. I'm proud of the way the players went about it," head coach Simon Mitchell said postgame.
"It doesn't surprise me that there is the synchronicity on the offensive end. I always thought that was going to be [there] because we have high IQ guys, guys that can shoot the ball well, guys who are prepared to play their role."
The early portion of any basketball season can present challenges as chemistry and cohesion are developed. But for the Phoenix, it's not just a handful of players, it's an entire roster that has come together with startling early results.
Whether it's Roberson raining threes, or Mitch Creek rallying the troops with each stoppage of play, or Adam Gibson's calming voice during timeouts, this team immediately looks like they care, like they want to play for each other.
According to Mitchell, this is no surprise - it was by design.
"Going back to our recruitment, you bring in a guy like Gibbo [Adam Gibson], a guy like Madge [Ben Madgen], Mitch Creek was the first signing, younger leaders like Kyle Adnam, he's a vocal guy, Dan Trist is a vocal guy," Mitchell said.
"We've got guys who come in and they've got buy in and they are great leaders of our ball club. John is a great leader, he does it in a different way. We've got guys who lead from the front and then we've got guys who do it gently."
That strong leadership core has brought accountability, with last week's historic 'Throwdown' win against United being followed by some harsh realities in review.
"We talked about our last five minutes last week a lot, we were pretty disappointed. Whilst celebrating a win, we were pretty disappointed with how we executed down the stretch. We spent a lot of time on video, couple of guys probably heard a little more than they wanted to about their performances down the stretch," Mitchell revealed.
Roberson credited the coaching staff for the execution and delivery of the review, which led to the dominant win on Sunday afternoon.
"We definitely have a lot to work on, it was our first game. They do a great job of pointing those things out, they don't let it slide, they point things out that we need to correct, and we do it as a team so it's perfect," Roberson said.
Although the franchise is a mere two rounds old, the drive is evident, the want for success is abundantly clear, but perhaps even more importantly, the smiles are broad.
"The way we move the ball, you see it, everybody is unselfish, everybody is making the extra pass and it's fun out there to play with these guys. There are no egos, everybody just wants to win, and you see that in our games," Roberson said.
Fun is the key word. The South East Melbourne Phoenix are having fun and why wouldn't they?
They are now 2-0.