Melbourne are getting physical in practice ahead of Sunday’s grand final rematch with Adelaide.Melbourne are again turning to wrestling to sharpen up their physicality in preparation for Sunday’s NBL grand final rematch against Adelaide at the Melbourne Arena.
A fatigued United faded for a shock home loss to the New Zealand Breakers last match with coach Dean Vickerman demanding they lift their intensity against the 36ers.
Last year Melbourne got their season back on track after spending time doing some MMA wrestling at the same place the Melbourne Storm – kings of the wrestle – train.
Starting the week with a focus on recovery after two games within 48 hours, including a quadruple overtime win over Illawarra, Vickerman said the players again locked horns with some wrestling.
“We took one of the wrestling movements that we used last year to start our practice today and I think we will continue to hit that every session for a few weeks just to start practice with something that is really physical and hopefully that transfers,” Vickerman said on Thursday.
The last time the two teams met in an NBL season match the home side posted an 18-point win to claim the best of five grand final series in the decider.
Adelaide also split their round one results, although upset heavyweights Sydney on their home turf.
Vickerman felt the 36ers had lost some pace with the departure of Mitch Creek to NBA club Brooklyn as well as US import Shannon Shorter.
But they still had plenty of threats in Nathan Sobey, new import Jacob Wiley and Majok Deng.
“Adelaide may have come back one step and are playing a little bit more in the half court than they did last year,” Vickerman said.
“Wiley was a handful for us and Majok Deng in the pre-season game we played them so there’s a lot of weapons there.”
Melbourne’s import DJ Kennedy is still under an injury cloud due to a troublesome foot injury, which meant he was a late withdrawal from their Breakers match.
Vickerman admitted the injury wasn’t healing as well as hoped but thought he would recover in time for Sunday’s match.
“It probably hasn’t responded as well as we wanted it to just yet but we hope to get him into team practice tomorrow and have two good sessions,” he said.
“We took it right to game time last time and it was only hour before that we ruled him out so we will give him every chance to play.”