South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell admits the last thing his side wanted was a three-week break.
But as the Phoenix prepare for their third-listed opponent since losing to the Sydney Kings 84-73 in Sydney on December 18, Mitchell said all his players could do is focus on what was in front of them despite having two previous games postponed due to the opposition battling COVID-19.
The Phoenix are scheduled to play Cairns Taipans in Cairns next Saturday and Mitchell said his players were desperate to get back on court.
The Phoenix haven’t played for three weeks. Credit:Mark Kolbe, Getty Images
“It’s less than ideal,” Mitchell told The Age.
“We are preparing for our third opponent and still licking our wounds from the Kings game. We’ve got exactly what we didn’t want, but it’s what we’ve got.
“I’ve said it all pre-season – dealing with COVID-19 will be a huge part of this season, and we have to have the mindset to combat it as, if you deal with COVID well, then you will be thereabouts at the end of the season.”
The Phoenix have struggled to keep to their training schedule due to delays in receiving regular COVID-19 test results, to clear all their players to resume training, and they haven’t had any chance to try and find some other form of match practice because of that.
“Our players just come in and do their work,” Mitchell said.
“It’s no different than what we have had in pre-season when we had COVID-19 interruptions or lack of numbers.
“We just do breakdown drills, two-on-two, three-on-three, one-on-one and get our session in that way. The guys have been really professional, and we’ve had two years of preparation for this with what we have experienced.
“We are built for this now, so it’s just about the guys coming in and doing their work.”
The Phoenix terminated import Devin Thomas for “multiple breaches of their code of conduct” last week without him playing a game.
They have yet to announce how they will fill their roster spot.
Meanwhile, Melbourne United played their scheduled game against the Tasmania JackJumpers on Saturday taking a 76-72 win in Hobart.
Now they are in a similar place to the Phoenix in waiting and hoping they can play their scheduled game against the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong this coming Sunday, but they will wait and see if the Hawks have enough available players after having some COVID-19 cases in the lead-up to Christmas.
Forward Jack White stepped up in the final term for United as his comeback from a ruptured Achilles continues to take shape.
Jack White, centre, in action against the Tasmania JackJumpers this week. Credit:Kelly Defina, Getty Images
White had four points and six rebounds in 21 minutes while filling time at both small forward and power forward. United coach Dean Vickerman said the former Duke University player could be back in the starting line-up soon.
“We got him the most amount of minutes since he came back,” Vickerman said.
“Some of his offensive rebounding was crucial for us, and he got a massive fast-break lay-up at a key moment down the stretch.
“He is just going to get better, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was starting for this team soon.”
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