Team spirit has been labelled as the key to Melbourne United’s NBL grand final success.Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman credited his players’ unselfishness and team spirit as the catalyst for winning the NBL championship.
The minor premiers completed a dream season with a dominant 100-82 win over the Adelaide 36ers in Saturday night’s deciding fifth game of an enthralling grand final series.
The victory sees Vickerman earn his second NBL title as a head coach, having steered the New Zealand Breakers to a championship in the 2014/15 season.
“I think, in the end, everybody bought into sacrificing a little bit for each other,” Vickerman said after guiding Melbourne to championship success in his first season at the club.
“Once we worked out who was going to score at different times, we became a team that if we find a mismatch, we just want to keep going to it.
“Everybody accepts that and if that’s not working, we move to the next guy and we share the basketball there.”
Vickerman praised the leadership of Chris Goulding and Casper Ware with the backcourt duo stepping up to score 23 points apiece in the do-or-die clash.
Goulding was on fire early with 13 first-quarter points while Ware scored United’s last 10 points of the first half to head off a second-quarter Sixers surge.
For Goulding, winner of the Larry Sengstock medal as the grand final MVP, the result was a breakthrough moment after many years of heartbreak over his 256-game NBL career.
“I’ve laid in locker rooms so many years at the end of the season and then Rio (Olympics in 2016) was another one,” Goulding said.
“I laid in the locker room and I just thought, ‘I’m sick of feeling this feeling, I don’t want to feel it anymore.’
“And I don’t have to feel it this year so I’m pretty bloody happy.”
Goulding also revealed some advice from his former coach and three-time NBL champion Chris Anstey helped prepare him for what to expect in the season-defining clash.
“He gave me some advice from a leadership standpoint as far as what the team needs to do,” Goulding said.
“He also told me, ‘don’t get in the way of yourself…there is a reason why you’re here.’
“He said some complimentary things and he said, ‘don’t get in the way of that, go out there and be yourself.'”