United keen to muscle up in rare open-air clash
BASKETBALL: Melbourne power forward Todd Blanchfield says United must "dig in and be physical” against the Brisbane Bullets on Boxing Day.
The Bullets outpointed United 100-90 last week to send the home side to the bottom of the National Basketball League table.
But Blanchfield is confident a fiery week on the practice court has United primed to return the favour under the open roof at Hisense Arena.
"We need to really dig down and be physical on the boards because we are going to be undersized,” Blanchfield said.
Already missing Boomer Dave Andersen (knee), United lost import Devin Williams (knee) this week after scans confirmed a medial ligament strain.
The centre will avoid surgery but is expected to miss four to six weeks.
"We have to make adjustments because obviously injuries happen in sport and we need to be physical and take a stand down there,” Blanchfield said.
"They're a big team (Brisbane), they're a physical team.”
United must avoid making the same mistakes defensively and "mental breakdowns”, hallmarks of a season marred by injury.
"After a loss like we had on the weekend, emotions are high. We had a pretty intense film session and everyone was pretty keen just to get on the practice court and take it out on each other,” Blanchfield said.
"Those sessions are fun to be a part of, it's competitive and that's what it's all about.
"We addressed it and started putting that stuff into practice on the court ... we got to be able to build on that.”
United coach Dean Demopoulos said the open-air game at Hisense Arena was the "coolest” experience of his professional career.
"I've been coaching a long time, that's maybe the coolest thing that I ever was part of and I was part of (Seattle) Sonics when we went and played in Tokyo, played in Mexico City,” the former NBA assistant coach said.
"I've been in some pretty nice venues, that was the coolest and most unique thing. It really is something special for somebody to come see that.”
There are less than 400 tickets left for the Boxing Day blockbuster.