Melbourne United unleashed a new star upon the NBL in Saturday night's 79-77 come-from-behind triumph over the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong.
Signed two weeks ago as a replacement for injured import Casey Prather, American forward Carrick Felix featured prominently with 19 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, as Melbourne overturned an 18-point third quarter deficit to claim their sixth straight win.
It was also their 12th win of the season and lifted them to a share of top spot with reigning champions Perth.
The Hawks led at every change and were firmly on course for a fourth successive victory before losing their way in the final period.
Australian Boomers sharpshooter Chris Goulding also stood out for Melbourne with 22 points, while Josh Boone and Tai Wesley combined for 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Demitrius Conger led Illawarra with 22 points and Nick Kay finished with 17.
Illawarra slipped to 8-10 for the season and blew a perfect chance to keep pressing for a top four finish.
The Hawks got the jump on the visitors, making an impressive 64 per cent of their shots in the opening period.
Kay and Conger led the charge with six points apiece, as Illawarra strode to a 24-17 quarter-time lead.
Kay stayed hot in the second period and had a team-high 12 points at halftime, sending the Hawks to a 48-36 lead at the main break.
Goulding led his team with 11 but there were plenty of worrying signs for Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman.
Illawarra looked comfortably in control, when the margin swelled to 18 inside the first two minutes of the third period.
Melbourne cut the deficit to nine with a quarter to play and overran the Hawks in crunch time.
Melbourne United's next game is in enemy territory against fellow heavyweights Perth next Friday, while the Hawks host the New Zealand Breakers on Saturday.