Vasiljevic gives strong backing to Sixers coach Ninnis

Steve Barrett |

Dejan Vasiljevic, on the ball for the 36ers in Brisbane, is fully backing coach Scott Ninnis.
Dejan Vasiljevic, on the ball for the 36ers in Brisbane, is fully backing coach Scott Ninnis.

Outspoken Adelaide sharpshooter Dejan Vasiljevic admits he would be “pissed” if interim 36ers coach Scott Ninnis isn’t locked away for the permanent role on a minimum two-year deal.

While the Sixers’ slim NBL play-in hopes ended with Friday night’s 102-84 loss at Brisbane, the fact they were even in the conversation spoke volumes of their form turnaround, engineered by Ninnis.

After CJ Bruton was sacked as coach in December with the 36ers reeling in last place at 4-9, Ninnis has since led them to a serviceable 7-7 record.

Legendary six-time NBL championship-winning coach and Boomers boss Brian Goorjian has been consistently linked to the Adelaide job but Vasiljevic is vehemently backing the incumbent Ninnis, who has expressed his desire to remain in charge next season.

“I know I keep harping on it but Scott deserves it,” Vasiljevic said.

“You watch where we were at the FIBA break when CJ was fired.

“Each week, we got better and better and were starting to get respected.

“I think Scotty’s done a fantastic job and deserves more than one year – it takes at least two years to build an established organisation to move forward.

“For sure, Scotty does deserve it and I’d be pissed if he’s not the coach for two years and onwards.”

Vasiljevic, who last month inked a three-year contract extension, wants centre Isaac Humphries and import combo guard Trey Kell to follow his lead and commit to Adelaide long-term.

The trio have flourished across the season’s back half since Ninnis assumed the reins.

Vasiljevic also issued an SOS for two-time NBL Best Defensive Player Antonius Cleveland, who has been plying his trade in Israel after being crowned the Sixers’ club MVP in 2022-23.

“I’d even start a GoFundMe to keep both of them (Humphries and Kell) around,” Vasiljevic said.

“You’ve got to keep that core group together

“If we can keep Scotty, keep the coaching staff, then we’ve got myself, Isaac and Trey, then you can build.

“I’m putting it out there – Cleveland, I want him around too.”