Sydney Kings big man Andrew Bogut has labelled Melbourne United the competition’s ‘‘trust-fund baby’’ as the bitter rivals head in to the NBL semi-finals.
United coach Dean Vickerman adopted the underdog tag in the lead-up to Saturday night’s series opener at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, suggesting the Kings are under pressure to live up to their top-seed billing.
Andrew Bogut says Melbourne United have been set up to succeed.Credit:Getty Images
Asked if Vickerman was engaging in mind games, Bogut likened the part NBL-owned side to a spoilt brat who had been handed success on a silver platter.
‘‘The pressure is on them,’’ he said in Sydney on Friday. ‘‘When you’re playing for the owner of the league [Larry Kestelman] it changes pressure a little bit.
‘‘It’s structured in a way where they’re going to be successful almost every year.
‘‘We’ve been building this for the last couple of years and haven’t had a whole lot of success the last decade, whereas we feel like Melbourne United are the trust-fund baby of the NBL.
‘‘They’re that kid that gets everything bought for them at a young age.’’
But the 2015 NBA champion, who has averaged seven points, six rebounds and 3.75 assists against United this season, remains wary after the Victorian club clocked four wins in their final five games to sneak into the finals.
‘‘We have a very good team that’s coming in that’s arguably just as talented as anyone else in the league,’’ Bogut said. ‘‘If we come in here thinking that our regular-season record matters, or our No.1 seed matters, we’ll probably get a shock.’’
Last year’s league MVP nursed a back complaint over the last third of the season that sidelined him for consecutive games before returning for the final-round win over Illawarra on February 14.
But the 35-year-old said the few extra weeks rest did his body wonders as the Kings chase their first NBL championship in 15 years.
Bogut’s future beyond this NBL campaign is up in the air. The former Golden State Warriors centre is mulling a possible NBA return in preparation for the Boomers pursuit of a maiden international medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
But he insists winning an NBL title remains his most pressing concern.
‘‘First and foremost, I’m trying to win a finals series and then a grand final series,’’ Bogut said. ‘‘My goal has always been, since I came back to the NBL, to get to 2020 healthy, fit and firing.
‘‘I believe I’m in that mindset both physically and mentally right now.’’
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