Vickerman lauds outgoing Boomers coach

Darren Snowdon
United mentor Dean Vickerman spent six years as an assistant for Andrej Lemanis at the Breakers

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman has paid tribute to former mentor Andrej Lemanis with the Boomers coach expected to be replaced at the helm of the national team in the coming days.

Vickerman spoke with Lemanis in the lead up to Sunday's clash between United and the Brisbane Bullets, following reports that Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown was set to take over as Australian Boomers coach.

And while Lemanis has declined to comment on his impending departure from the Boomers, Vickerman took the time to share his thoughts on the impact he has made on Australian basketball.

"I had a really good conversation with Andrej Lemanis through the week," Vickerman revealed after United's 108-94 victory over the Bullets at Melbourne Arena.

Vickerman spent six years as an assistant under Lemanis at the New Zealand Breakers, the duo overseeing a successful era that included three straight NBL championships.

When Lemanis left New Zealand to become the Boomers coach in 2013, Vickerman took over the top job and guided the Breakers to a fourth title in five seasons before repeating his success with Melbourne in 2017-18.

"He was a great mentor coach to me and the thing that we talked about yesterday was being at Marvel Stadium for the USA games and how when we were in New Zealand together, we looked at Spark Arena and said we want to play there, we wanted to go to the biggest venue," he said.

"My memory of Andrej coaching the Boomers is going to be at Marvel Stadium, beating that US team and how proud I was as a fan seeing that win and having 55,000 people in there.

"That's the memory I shared with him yesterday, how proud I was of him for what he did for our country and to see the game grow during his period as a Boomer."

Despite the breakthrough victory against the US national team, missing out on a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and this year's World Cup appears to have worked against Lemanis as the Boomers set their sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"People will always talk about not winning a medal and he will talk about it too because he wanted to get it done," Vickerman said.

"But beating the US for the first time on home soil and being part of that crowd was amazing."

United won their sixth game in a row thanks to another commanding display from Melo Trimble (25 points) and career-best performances from bench players Tohi Smith-Milner and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.

Vickerman is hopeful import Casey Prather will recover from back spasms in time for United's crucial road double against the Cairns Taipans and ladder leaders Sydney Kings.