MELBOURNE United coach Dean Vickerman has praised his ‘depth players’ following a 93-85 NBL pre-season win against Sydney Kings in Bendigo Stadium on Thursday night.
The reigning NBL champions – minus their two signed imports Josh Boone and Casper Ware – rallied from an eight-point deficit in the third quarter to post a 93-85 win.
Four-time championship centre Alex Pledger, who has signed with Melbourne following a long career with New Zealand Breakers, top-scored with 16 points, while fellow recruit Mitch McCarron finished with 15.
But equally pleasing for Vickerman was the performances of Craig Moller, 25-year-old newcomer Daniel Trist and former development player Tohi Smith-Milner.
“We came into the game really wanting to test our depth – we knew our three imports weren’t playing,” he said.
“We really wanted to see what our local content could do and were really pleased. We got in a bit of a hole there about eight (points) down, but we were able to find a way out of it which is a promising sign.
“You play every game to prepare to try and win, but outcomes in the pre-season are a little different – you want to make sure your systems, both offensively and defensively, are working and guys are working together and sharing the basketball.
“We had a plan to play Craig Moller a lot in the three spot, but he played a lot in four spot with Dave Barlow in some foul trouble, but he was a real part of the comeback. But I thought we had good contributions right across the board tonight.”
We really wanted to see what our local content could do and were really pleased.Dean Vickerman
Pledger scored eight of his points in the final quarter.
United were able to restrict former NBA star Andrew Bogut to eight points.
The seven-foot centre scored the opening two points of the contest and added his last points in the dying stages of the last quarter before fouling out after playing restricted minutes.
Jerome Randle top scored for the Kings with 21 points, while Kevin Lisch added 18.
A crowd of 2200 turned out for the game in the city’s new $23-million redeveloped stadium.
Basketball fans will get another slice of NBL action on Thursday, September 20, when the stadium will host all eight NBL clubs next month for the competition’s pre-season ‘Blitz’ tournament.
Vickerman said his team would definitely be interested in returning for a future pre-season clash.