WITH the NBL season well and truly underway, Rookie Me Central took the opportunity to get to know and catch up with Melbourne United veteran, Dion Prewster. Previously playing in the league winning a championship with the New Zealand Breakers and Sydney Kings, after many challenges and a tough road to play back in the National Basketball League, Prewster is ready to play his role and do what it takes to help Melbourne United go back-to-back.
After a tough start to the season for the defending champions, Melbourne United have gone on a winning streak, and after Sunday’s win, Prewster shares his side’s form so far and preparation for this Sunday’s game against the Tasmania JackJumpers.
“After the game against Sydney, I think there was more of a sign of we’re still improving,” he said. “The win is great, but there’s still things we can improve on. “Part of that is because we have a lot of new guys on the roster.
“We treat it like any other game. “They’re going to be super pumped cause they’re at home, they’ve got their crowd behind them, they’ve won a couple of games I believe at home, so we’re going to treat it just as any other game and try to improve on areas we need to improve on. “We’ve got to be mindful to take the crowd out of the game and don’t any feed any energy into that, we’re going to have our work cut out for sure.”
SIGNING WITH MELBOURNE UNITED
After being signed to the United roster, Prewster opens up and shares his thoughts after receiving the phone call from Dean Vickerman, during the off-season signing period to play with the defending champions, Melbourne United and how he is enjoying the city and playing in front of the fans so far.
“I’m really enjoying Melbourne. The weather’s been pretty good most days, which makes it a little bit easier. I’m settling in, and just enjoying playing basketball again,” Prewster said.
“It’s awesome. Previously when I’ve played for other clubs in the NBL, the road game that you always look forward to or the arena that you look forward to is John Cain Arena. “It’s nice to be on the home team and playing with such a supportive crowd and rich history of basketball.
“It was very much a surprise for obvious reasons. “I’ve been out of the league for quite a while but also being a little bit older, I kind of thought maybe that door may have closed.
“Receiving that phone call, I took some time to get all the stuff over the line and it was awesome. “All the work that I’ve put in up to that point was worth it. “Melbourne United, they won it last year so it’s awesome that a championship calibre team gives you a job opportunity and I’m super happy about it.”
PLAYING ALONGSIDE TALENTED STARS
With Melbourne United having a stacked roster for the 2021/2022 season, Prewster shares how grateful he is playing alongside Matthew Dellavedova, Chris Goulding, David Barlow and Shea Ili in the same team.
“It’s awesome. I think the thing that stands out to me the most is the mentality of coming in every day to work hard at training which is always good trait to have in your teammates when they are willing to show up every day and put the work in,” Prewster said.
“The other thing is the experience and knowledge that everyone has. “Everyone has something to offer and I feel like every day I can learn something new every day or offer something to someone else so that we can all get better cause at the end of the day, we’ll all here for the same reason and that’s to win a championship.
“Everyone that’s a part of the team even the management staff, I think we’re all focused on winning a championship. You make it work and you do whatever it takes for the team whether that’s scoring 20 points or getting 10 rebounds or being the best teammate on the bench you can be and being vocal it’s like you just do it with 100 per cent.”
After a huge impact season with the Wellington Saints in the New Zealand Sal’s National Basketball League competition (NZNBL), Prewster lead the Saints to the top of the ladder and an eventual title. He finished a huge season winning a number of awards including MVP, Defensive Player Of The Year, named All Star Five, taking home the Keith Carr Trophy and John McDonald trophy, Prewster shared how honoured and taking them out.
“To be honest, it’s pretty crazy. I try not go into any season thinking about individual awards, I just try to be the best player I can be,” Prewster said. “Certainly, when all those things came, it was fantastic. “It was validating the work that you’ve put in but the main one that I was focused on was trying to win the actual title for the Wellington Saints because it’ll be a while since I’ve won one and I’ve played at other clubs and come up short so it’s nice to be a part of a championship team but also being the vocal point and really contributing on a big scale.”
“The Wellington Saints do an excellent job of recruiting and making sure they’re club is as professional as they can be. “They’ve done it for years and it’s the reason why they been so successful in the past because they do the little things that make a championship team great.”
With Zico Coronel being successful in the NZNBL competition for a number of years, Prewster shared the impact and influence that helped him to become the player he is today.
“From a coaching perspective, the last few years I’ve been really fortune enough to play for Zico Coronel, who coached me in Wellington last year and had coached me previously in Hawks Bay the two seasons before that and he’s really been a big influence on my player development but also my basketball IQ and how I view the game,“ Prewster said.
“He’s an amazing coach who puts in a lot of time and certainly on his way to do great things. “His work ethic and his style of coaching is something that I aspire to kind of work my work my way towards eventually when I’m done playing basketball.
“It’s very evident that he puts in a lot of time in his coaching. “He has a wealth of knowledge but he’s also very aware of how to teach and build things and get the team to build in.”
COVID-19 PANDEMIC INTERRUPTIONS
With COVID-19 causing havoc on the season across the league, Prewster shared his insight into how players like Dion prepare for training and games during these times and what he does during the season.
“I think everyone or individual athlete is going to be different. There are probably some similarities,” Prewster said. “For me specifically, I try to set goals and daily objectives before I go to training, just so I have a focus. “I’m not just going in their sort of willing or nearly, and not locked in. “I think that important during the season.”
“Even during the off season, you want to set goals and work on things you want to work on in your own individual game. During the course of the season, I think the most important part is recovery such as nutrition, hydration. “For me personally, I like to float a lot, in a sensory deprivation tank where you are floating in the water in a closed capsule which is a relaxing sort of re-energising process for me during the season so that’s a big part in my recovery process. “Another thing is getting good sleep is another big one.”
With the league being the closest it’s been in years, matches have been going down to the wire in the final minute. It has seen plenty of drama on the court as well. Prewster shared his thoughts and strategies he uses on and off the court to keep calm during a tough game.
“It’s about trying to be optimistic about everything,” he said. “During the course of the season, even during the game itself, there’s always going to be highs and lows of the game. “You’re never going to have games where you don’t turn the ball over or don’t make a mistake. “The best way to look at it is ‘What can I do to help my team this next play, training or whatever the case may be?’
“Basketball is a series of individual possessions. “If you just focus on the individual possession and playing it the best, you can, hopefully you can string multiple possessions at a really high level. “Sometimes you can’t make a shot and that’s just the nature of the game. If you get too down on yourself, it just doesn’t help.
“You got to do your role to the best of your ability. “Regardless if you’re having success or not, it doesn’t change your approach or process, you have to keep maintaining the same work habits every day. “
With the NBL competition strength to strength every season and many talented players that have played in the league, Prewster shared how playing in the National Basketball League has helped him as a player and how much the league has grown over the years, including having the Next Stars program.
“It’s allowed me to work with different people with different philosophies, in regard to their approach to the game of basketball. Working with different coaches and obviously with Dean, he has a particular style that he wants to play,” Prewster said.
“I try to take or absorb as much knowledge as I can. “The great part of what we do for a living is that you get to meet different people from different backgrounds. “The NBL as a league is very diverse. “You’ve got the Next Stars programs so you’re having kids from France, Germany, Russia, China, obviously, you’ve got the locals, the Kiwis, Aussies and Americans even some Canadians. “It’s awesome to be able to meet people all over the world and hear their experiences and their journeys in basketball because you don’t usually get to interact with people like that from an intermediate level from day to day.”
Lastly, Prewster shared some wisdom and advice to younger or upcoming ballers that are wanting to improve their game.
“Make sure when you’re playing basketball, that you’re doing it because you love the game or you enjoy the game,“ he said.
“If your goal is to be a professional or make your state team, there are going to be challenges. “If you truly love the game, you’ll be able to get through those hurdles and challenges. “Make sure you are playing for the right reasons and also enjoying the game and the process of being a better basketball player. “
“You’re going to have to learn how to lose and be graceful and hopefully come away from that loss and learn something and come back better. “You’re going to have setbacks and injuries, there’s all sorts of things that can slow down your career.”
“Be able to understand that, see the good side and learn from those things.”