MELBOURNE United will face an untried Adelaide 36ers at the Minerdome.
Injury, Australian Boomers duty, unavailability and waits on imports have forced the National Basketball League grand finalists to draw deep on the roster for a practice match in Ballarat on Friday night.
Sixers coach Joey Wright says there will be exciting, young talent on show – like 19-year-olds Sam Johns and Matt Lycett – teaming with Brendan Teys, Luke Schenscher and recruit Peter Crawford.
Wright could hardly wait to test them against a near full-strength United team.
“It’s a better opportunity to get a lot more from our other, younger players,” Wright said.
United is preparing to put on a big show on Friday, with the game starting at 7pm.
It is the first time the club, formerly Melbourne Tigers, will suit up for a game under its new branding.
United has been camped in Ballarat for the week, its second of the pre-season, to fine-tune its game plans.
Multiple NBL championship player Daryl Corletto and David Barlow, fresh from the European circuit, are likely to be on the floor with import Steve Dennis, new marquee player Daniel Kickert, Auryn Macmillan, Owen Odigie, Nate Tomlinson, former Miner Lucas Walker and Mark Worthington.
For Dennis, it is about getting his game back.
The American guard impressed in exhibition matches before he snapped his Achilles tendon on the season’s eve.
Dennis arrived back in Melbourne two months ago to polish off his rehabilitation but has been waiting a long time for this moment.
“I’m excited. I haven’t played in 12 months,” Dennis said.
“(Pre-season) is just the beginning, going through the stages how we want to be playing.”
Sixers coach Wright is more than familiar with the Minerdome, too. The former Geelong Supercat has lots of fond memories of good games playing against the Ballarat Miners and Miners’ legend Eric Hayes.
Meanwhile, United continued its community camp yesterday with lunch at Ballarat Specialist School, a primary school competition and working with western Victoria’s talent program players.
Only 200 seats remain for Friday night’s clash. Tickets can be bought from the Minerdome or online at ballaratbasketball.com/