NBL21: Melbourne United and Cairns Taipans face unique issues heading into Snag Pit rematch

Melbourne United will look internally to cover the loss of star forward Jack White.

White went down with an Achilles injury in United’s victory over Cairns Taipans on Good Friday and, while he is yet to have scans, coach Dean Vickerman said the tendon had ruptured.

“Absolutely feeling for him right now and (it) certainly takes the gloss off winning a bit,” Vickerman said.

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Overwhelmed with all the messages of support tonight. Obviously a tough time but can’t thank everyone enough for reaching out and seeing how I’m doing. Great win from the fellas tonight and can’t wait to get back out there again, minor setback for a major comeback. Much love ❤️

White had taken to the devastating news with a positive outlook, thanking wellwishers on Twitter.

“Overwhelmed with all the messages of support,” White tweeted.

“Obviously a tough time, but can’t thank everyone enough for reaching out and seeing how I’m doing.

“Great win from the fellas tonight and can’t wait to get back out there again, minor setback for a major comeback.”

United does have an open import slot that it could utilise to bring in an impact player to cover White.

But Vickerman says the club will look to the likes of Mason Peatling, David Barlow and Jo Lual-Acuil to fill the void left by the dynamic White.

“Mason, Barlow, Jo Cool all have the ability to cover that area as they have done while he’s been out (with a finger injury) and so we’ll look at that and hopefully we believe that can still get us to where we want to get,” Vickerman said.

“Then obviously we look at all options, if we don’t believe that is the total answer. Right now, that is the answer.”

United coach Dean Vickerman’s attention now turns to life without Jack White. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Vickerman said he was “confident” going into Sunday’s return bout with the Taipans in Cairns, after visiting during pre-season.

“We feel like we’ve spent a lot of time up there and we played good basketball in pre-season so I think we venture up there having a really good feeling about how we started the season,” Vickerman said.

“If we keep moving the basketball the way we did (on Good Friday) within our offensive process I think we’ll go up there fairly confident.”

Import Scotty Hopson returned against the Taipans after missing seven games with an adductor and he believes it was time well-spent.

“I had a chance to dissect the way I’ve been playing and the ways I can impact the team,” Hopson said.

“It gave me a chance to see where I can really find my niche within the team and I’m building toward that.

“I don’t feel any pressure.”

The Taipans fought it out, but ultimately, United was too good. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Frustrated Cairns Taipans coach Mike Kelly is at a loss to explain why his side needs to be “smacked in the face” to get rolling in games.

The Taipans fought back from double-digit deficits a number of times against Melbourne on Good Friday, getting as close as four in the final quarter before United ran away with it.

He urged his side to finish off its good work.

“We haven’t totally figured it out this year,” Kelly said.

“It’s valuing the ball each possession and valuing stops each possession and I think this group will fight, but sometimes it takes us getting smacked in the face and then we get rolling.

“That’s not how you win basketball games consistently.

“Close enough is not going to be good enough to beat these good teams, so we need to be better at doing that, finishing plays.”

Cairns coach Mike Kelly wants his side to hit the ground running against United on Sunday. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Kelly said finishing those plays after getting defensive stops or moving the ball well on offence would be key to reversing the result in Sunday’s rematch with United in Cairns.

“I know we can play with these guys, we just need to do it for four quarters,” Kelly said.

“If we can come back with that mindset and make shots again … I feel good about competing with them.”

Kelly praised Tall Black Jordan Ngatai who, against United, had one of his best games as a Taipan.

“I think he’s unlocking how he can be a consistent performer in this league, both defensively and offensively,” Kelly said of Ngatai, who drained four three-pointers on his way to 17 points in the loss.

“He shoots the ball very well … I’ve always felt like he’s a guy who will defend and play hard and can knock down a jumper and finish at the rim and those are the things that make for a good NBL player.”

Originally published as‘Smacked in the face’: Taipans, United hunt answers

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