NBL JackJumpers earn Vickerman praise

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Perhaps the advice Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman gave his Tasmania JackJumpers counterpart Scott Roth was a little too good.

The NBL sides go head-to-head in a best-of-three semi-final series beginning Thursday night, after Tasmania walked a late-season tightrope to make the play-offs in their debut season.

Vickerman said he got to know Roth in Perth, where the latter was an assistant coach.

"As soon as he got the job in Tasmania, he gave me a call in the off-season and said 'I've got 15 questions for you that I want to ask'," he told reporters.

"I'm sure he's done that to plenty of other people as well. He's always been open and reached out.

"He's a bit older than me, but he doesn't think he knows everything. He's got great humility and his players love him, and that's a pretty good start for a franchise."

Roth guided Tasmania to a 17-11 finish to the season after a wobbly 2-6 beginning.

The JackJumpers are 2-1 over defending champions United, who finished top of the ladder, including an 83-61 victory in the final regular-season round that kept their season alive.

They made the top four when South East Melbourne secured an extra-time victory over Perth, ending the Wildcats finals run dating back to the mid-1980s.

"Over the course of the three games, I don't think we've defended them at a really high level yet," Vickerman said.

"There's a massive growth in that area. We know how tenacious they can be on defence."

Roth had equally kind words for United on Wednesday ahead of his team's flight to Melbourne.

"They're a great team. I love watching them play. It will be a great battle, a great test," he said.

"We have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. But I told (our players), go there expecting to win. This is maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

JackJumpers point guard Josh Magette, who has played 26 NBA games for Atlanta and Orlando and also plied his trade in Europe, said the team's culture was as good as any he has represented.

"The guys truly enjoy being around each other on and off the court. We're open to criticism. We have a group of adults who don't mind conversations about how we can improve the team," he said.

In a big boost for Melbourne, star Matthew Dellavedova has been declared fit to play after undergoing surgery last week to have several teeth removed.

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