News Article

Vasiljevic’s quest to get 36ers back on top

20 Mar
5 mins read

Written By

Dan Woods

DJ Vasiljevic is locked in for the next three seasons and is excited to see what the future holds in Adelaide.

Adelaide 36ers have locked away four key pillars heading towards NBL25 free agency, and the club has already begun positioning themselves to make waves next season and beyond.

The addition of new General Manager of Basketball Operations Matt Weston on Monday is the latest in a string of moves that opened all the way back in Round 16 with the commitment of DJ Vasiljevic to a three-year deal.

Recently, the club has re-signed head coach Scott Ninnis and star centre Isaac Humphries to multi-year deals.

Two-time NBL champion guard Vasiljevic was one of the crucial pieces to the puzzle and he was one of the reasons Adelaide’s fortunes changed significantly during the back end of the NBL24 regular season.

Head coach Ninnis has been strongly and consistently bullish in his desire to build a strong core from which his roster can be constructed. Vasiljevic himself has been a member of such a core, winning two championships at the Sydney Kings.



Takeover App(728x90)

Vasiljevic said the key core pieces to a roster is a recurring theme amongst the NBL’s most successful teams.

“If you can have guys like myself and Isaac for a three-year period it helps. You look at the teams who have been successful in the past like the Kings, United and Perth, they’ve always had a core group of guys and they’ve always re-signed for additional two-years’ and the teams have built around that,” Vasiljevic said.

“Establishing a good core over a number of years is what’s needed to win a championship. Now, it might not happen next season, but the second or third year who knows what could happen if you have that core group that has played together and built good chemistry.

“If you build a good core it brings a great culture because everyone is comfortable with each other, and that’s when you plug in the imports, and that’s where the front office and coaches do their job.

“I think we showed glimpses last year towards the back end that we should be contending for top four or the Play-In, but we just had a poor start to the year.

“Once Scotty took over, we clicked into gear – it took us a few games – and the next thing you know we were upsetting United, the Hawks and Perth. The only team we couldn’t beat was Tassie.”

Vasiljevic, Humphries and Ninnis look set to be the spine from which Adelaide’s roster will be built out – along with the club’s remaining contracted players for next season Nick Marshall, Jason Cadee and Sunday Dech.

Vasiljevic says the opportunity is now there for Ninnis to create his own roster from the start and to play how he wants.

“Scotty was able to take over and he was all deserving for it. Imagine what he can do when he can build the roster he wants to,” Vasiljevic said.

“Now he’s got the chance we’ll get to see how that goes. I think we’re going to be very successful moving forward. 

“I think we showed glimpses towards the back end that we could win. We played with one to two imports because we had times where Trey (Kell III) or Jacob (Wiley) were out, and we never really had a healthy squad in my opinion.

“If you can see what Isaac’s done being one of the best big men in the league and what I’ve been able to do since I left Sydney, I think Scott and Adelaide has got the best out for me and I think it will continue to be better for me and for Isaac.”

Adelaide is a club that has been starved of the ultimate NBL success since 2002, during that time the club has made two grand final series, a 2-1 series defeat to Perth in 2014, and a 3-2 defeat to Melbourne United in 2018.

Gettyimages 1911804517

Vasiljevic says it can't be understated how much that desire to win for the club means to the members, sponsors, supporters and fans.

“The one thing the fans and the ownership and everyone wants here is the passion, the heart, and the pride,” Vasiljevic said.

“You’re not only playing for the Adelaide 36ers, but you’re playing for the entire city of Adelaide and its people.

“When I came in that’s the first thing I did, I wanted to bring that championship calibre mindset of competing in every game regardless of the margins, and that’s one thing sponsors and corporates I’ve spoken to have raved about me, they say we’ve given them hope, and I play like my life depends on it, and I do.

“I get paid well in this league to play for a great organisation, of course I’m going to give everything I can to the city.

“It’s a basketball city. There’s no interference with the cricket, NRL, AFL, netball, or anything. We were between last and seventh and we were selling out our stadium for eight straight games, imagine how it will be if we’re in the top two or top four?

“The demand will be through the roof for the ownership and for front office and the fans will want a bigger stadium."



More News

Major Partners