Melbourne target Tasmania’s McVeigh in NBL decider

Shayne Hope |

Tasmania JackJumper Jack McVeigh (centre) has been a constant thorn in Melbourne’s side.
Tasmania JackJumper Jack McVeigh (centre) has been a constant thorn in Melbourne’s side.

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman has singled out Tasmania’s heart-and-soul leader Jack McVeigh as key to deciding the NBL Championship Series.

The best-of-five title decider heads back to John Cain Arena on Sunday for a winner-takes-all battle after games three and four were decided on McVeigh’s last-gasp heaves from near half-court.

One rattled in and one narrowly missed, perfectly encapsulating how little has split the two teams over the past fortnight.

McVeigh has been a constant thorn in Melbourne’s side throughout a roller-coaster series, averaging 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game.

His 28 points, seven boards and four steals were almost enough to lift Tasmania to a game-four win that would have sealed the team’s maiden championship.

But the 27-year-old couldn’t quite repeat his game-three heroics.

“Maybe it was just our turn to get a little bit of luck on one of those,” Vickerman said ahead of Sunday’s decider.

Dean Vickerman
Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman keeps a close eye on proceedings against the JackJumpers. (Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS)

“McVeigh was great again (in game four) and we left him a little bit more single coverage.

“We can hopefully try to restrict his talent a little bit, but he’s been pretty tough down there.

“Everybody else we feel like we’ve done a reasonable job on. We’ll lock down on him a little bit more.”

Tasmania coach Scott Roth sees McVeigh as one of his team’s greatest weapons as they go after another massive upset on the road.

“He’s been good down on the post and they chose not to double him (in game four),” Roth said.

“He was able to create some offence down there for himself and control the game a little bit for us down there.

“His versatility is something that is unique in the league, obviously being able to score at all three levels.”

Tasmania’s import centre Marcus Lee will miss the decider with a knee injury sustained in game three.

Vickerman shrugged off concerns over an apparent leg injury being carried by captain Chris Goulding, who shapes as one of his team’s most likely game-breakers.

“Everyone’s got a little something right now. Nothing to be worried about,” Vickerman said.

Goulding has landed a record 137 three-pointers this season and has matched McVeigh with an average of 18.8 points throughout the Championship Series.