Melbourne United lift the lid on challenge of covid life on the road

NBL ladder leader Melbourne United want clarification on their travelling future after being shunted interstate since last week with no idea of a home return date as the finals loom.

United have been on the road since Melbourne’s Covid-19 outbreak, playing their past two games against the Kings and Taipans in Sydney.

The championship favourites take on the Wildcats in Perth on Friday before a regular season home finale against the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday at John Cain Arena, although the game could be relocated if Victoria’s lockdown is extended.

United could also be forced to play their opening finals games interstate.

Melbourne United face an uncertain period on the road due to Melbourne’s Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Coach Dean Vickerman spoke about the human realities of life in quarantine on the road for the professional sporting team.

From players with families to potential Olympic campaigns, Vickerman’s coaching job is multi-layered.

“We’ve got three guys with new babies,” Vickerman said.

“You talk about the guys who are potential Olympians as well, they have a COVID injection tomorrow, we don’t know when we are going home, they’re going to America straight after the season and into an Olympic campaign.

“They look at the long term and could be away from wives, family, girlfriends for a long, long time so that’s the worst of the situation. How each day can we process that and it’s by having fun, playing basketball, because when your job takes you away from your family it’s a real challenge.”

United will be restricted to their hotel rooms for much of the stay in Western Australia, which is a significant mental challenge according to Vickerman.

“We understand we’re in a dirty quarantine kind of situation, so our only outlet is to go to practice,” he said.

“Otherwise, we’re locked into a floor in the hotel. We’ve been there before when we were in Cairns and we got a table tennis table, we got some games going, we’ll create something that’s fun and competitive for the group to take their mind off being in that lock down.

“This group plays cards and they’ve got different little things going on so us spending time together in those situations is always fun.

“Any time we get information about what’s a possibility or what’s next for us, we never hide it from the playing group, it’s always direct.

“If that means it’s on game day, as soon as we know we give it to our players, and they are fantastic at processing it and then moving forward.”

Melbourne United lift the lid on challenge of covid life on the road, which included a home game in Sydney against Cairns. Photo: Jaimi Joy/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

United forward Scotty Hopson understands the importance of the clash with Perth, with a win securing top spot for the finals.

“Our mindset is it’s just another game, but we do want to get home court advantage going into the playoffs,” Hopson said.

“ We’re going to go in and fight for this game like we would any other game and try to do the best we can.

“I’m excited. Looking forward to the challenge, we know they’re going to be amped up in there, but I’ll take my guys and compete with them anywhere. We’ve been road warriors all season and we’re going to continue that form and that energy and bring it to Perth.”

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