Departing Melbourne early on Monday morning, it was a long trip over for Melbourne United who will play two games against the Jiangsu Dragons CBA side in Nanjing this week.
The two games help to further strengthen ties between Victoria and it’s 38-year sister-state relationship with Jiangsu Province, as well as Australia’s relationship with China as the NBL continues to build on its exposure in one of the world’s biggest markets.
After two flights and nearly 18 hours in transit later, the team arrived at the Shangri La Hotel.
Tuesday morning the team gathered for breakfast and then attended a recovery session at the (very impressive) hotel gym. The session included some light weights and getting the body moving again ahead of the first game which takes place tomorrow night.
After a team meeting and some lunch, the group jumped back on the bus and headed to Nanjing University where they were treated to some history of the school and a tour of the University’s museum.
Nanjing University is in the top three universities in China, as well as having some impressive facilities for sport which Melbourne United were fortunate enough to use for training that afternoon.
Following the tour, the guys were put through a tough session by new Head Coach Dean Vickerman who will make his un-official debut as coach for Melbourne tomorrow night against the Dragons.
Joining him in the un-official (pre-season) debut category are newly signed Craig Moller and young-gun development player Sam Short who will both also suit up for the first time for the Club.
Alongside Moller and Short; Majok Majok, Tohi Smith-Milner, Igor Hadziomerovic, Kyle Adnam, Owen Odigie and Tai Wesley have also made the trip for Melbourne United, as well as Chris Goulding who wont make it onto the court however as he continues to rehab his ankle following surgery last month.
Rounding out the team are recent College graduates Darcy Malone and Matt Donlan who are both looking to begin their professional basketball careers. Darcy plays the big-man/centre spot and spent time at LSU with Ben Simmons before graduating from California State University, whilst Donlan plays a small forward and recently graduated from Youngstown St.
The opportunity is an exciting one for both the boys as it puts them in the sights of the coaches as potential players or development players for the upcoming NBL season.
Following a scrimmage session against the Nanjing University women's side, the team headed back to the hotel for dinner before heading out again to check out one of the local night markets – much to the excitement of many new adoring local fans.
To keep up with everything that’s happening in China as it happens, head over to the Melbourne United Instagram account (@melbunited) and follow the club's insta-story.
Melbourne United would also like to pay thanks to the NBL, the State Government of Victoria, Australia and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and CPA Australia for their role in making this trip happen.