Friendship on hold as Dante warns Pineau to ‘clear the lane’ in historic NBL x NBA Series
NBA x NBL series-opening clash in Utah kicks off today with childhood best friends matched up against each other. Jazz point guard Dante Exum has warned Sydney Kings forward Dane Pineau to ‘clear the lane’ ahead of today’s historic NBA x NBL series-opening clash.
Three Australian basketball clubs will line up in pre-season clashes with NBA clubs this week ahead of the National Basketball League tip-off this Thursday night, starting with Utah v Sydney today.
It is the first time NBL sides have faced off against teams from the world’s premier league since the 1995 McDonald’s Championship in London. In that match, the Perth Wildcats played the Houston Rockets.
Utah boasts two Australian Boomers in Exum and Joe Ingles. This means this match will put Australian basketball firmly in the international spotlight.
Exum and Pineau grew up together and came through the basketball ranks at the same time. Both played in the Under 19 World Championships before Exum’s meteoric rise to the NBA.
But Exum said that friendship would be put on hold for this clash.
“I’ve given Dane a lot of advice, I told him to clear the lane because I am coming through,” he told NBL.com.au.
“I just told him to go out and have fun. The biggest (thing) is to just get out of the lane because I will try and dunk on him.”
The trash talk is flowing both ways, with Dane sending Exum a cheeky sledge of his own in the lead-up.
“I messaged Dante as soon as I found out we were playing the Jazz and said, “I’m excited to get the first win of the season in Utah,” he laughed.
For Ingles, the match represents more than just a training run for Utah. He expects the NBL clubs to present stern challenges to their NBA counterparts this week.
“I think it will be kind of bigger than people think,” he said.
“I’ve had friends and stuff tell me that we will blow them out and that it won’t be worth it. (But) the NBL teams are a lot better than what people think.
“They are in their pre-season, like we are, preparing for a season – they play their first game Saturday.
“They are going to be wanting to go into that not getting blown out or losing a game.
“They are going to be going just as hard as we are. Hopefully it’s a good game and we both get what we need out of it.”
Kings coach and Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze said he was stressing the importance of team over individual performances to his charges.
“Don’t think that this is going to be your ticket to the NBA, and here is the opportunity to put together a highlight reel for your resume that is going to get you into the NBA,” he said.
“Those types of things will take care of themselves.
“We go out there, stick to our principals, stick to our rules and the way in which we want to go about it. Then naturally things will work themselves out.”
The Sydney Kings will play the Utah Jazz at 12:00 pm AEDT today.
Oklahoma City Thunder will play Melbourne United on October 8, and the Phoenix Suns will line up against the Brisbane Bullets on October 13.
The NBL season will tip off on Thursday at 7.30pm AEDT with the Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne United to commence proceedings