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‘Warrior’ Dellavedova fit and firing ahead of first NBL season, says coach Vickerman

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman has allayed any lingering concerns about the fitness of superstar recruit Matt Dellavedova ahead of his first NBL season.

An NBA champion and member of the bronze-medal winning Boomers squad, “Delly’ was hampered by injury in his final NBA campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Whiplash and a serious concussion sidelined the popular point guard from the first 47 games of the 2020/21 season. A bout of appendicitis didn’t help his push for selection either.

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Earlier this year, Dellavedova shut down speculation that injury would force him to retire from the game he loves and eventually announced he had signed with Melbourne United for the 2021/22 NBL season.

His addition to the roster will be crucial to United’s hopes of winning back-to-back titles and Vickerman said the superstar recruit was already making his influence felt at pre-season training.

“He’s been amazing,” Vickerman said.

“He offers so many different levels, one of those being work ethic. His basketball IQ is something that everybody at our club is going to benefit from.

“There’s a warrior in him, he’s just never going to quit, which fits with the culture of this club.”

Dellavedova managed to shake off his injury concerns and line up at the Tokyo Games, where he helped the Boomers claim the first Olympic medal in their history.

Vickerman declared that Dellavedova had maintained his match fitness in the interim.

“Ask him and he’ll probably tell you he’s in much better shape than he was heading into the Olympic campaign,” he said.

“He looks great.

“We’ve done a good job in managing him to get him to a point where he’s ready to play 28-30 minutes right now.”

Dellavedova will run out for United for the first time on Saturday when the side faces the New Zealand Breakers in its first match of the NBL Blitz pre-season tournament.

Ahead of the clash with his former club, Vickerman has inked a new contract extension that will keep him in the hot seat at United until at least the end of the 2023/24 season.

“It’s great news for the club,” said club captain and Dellavedova’s Boomers teammate Chris Goulding.

“Success follows Dean and that isn’t by accident. Ever since he got to the club, the level of professionalism, the progression of our culture and on-court success have all improved and continue to improve.

“I’m very happy for him and his family and very happy as a player that he will continue to be our coach at Melbourne United.”

The NBL regular season begins on December 3.

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