Midnight workouts at secret facilities: Maker trio still working during shutdown

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LOS ANGELES -- Australia's Maker boys arrive at a secret basketball facility south of Los Angeles just before midnight five days a week, punch in a security code, flick on the lights and get to work.

Their first job of the night is not basketball.

They turn into possibly the tallest cleaning crew on the planet.

The 213-cm (6-foot-10) tall Thon Maker, his 210-cm (6-8) "little brother" Matur Maker and 211-cm (6-9) teenage cousin Makur Maker grab towels, sanitiser and cleaning products and start wiping down basketballs, seats, benches and anything else they might touch during their workouts from midnight to 2 a.m.

They are joined by former Sydney Kings big man Anthony Susnjara, who has carved out a successful career as a coach and trainer in Southern California.

"We're trying to be as sensible as we can," Susnjara told AAP.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the NBA and almost every other sports league in the world to pause, but the Makers are determined to stay fit and ready for the day they are allowed to compete again.

All three Makers are approaching crucial points in their careers.

Thon is in the fourth and possibly final year of a contract with the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

If the Pistons do not offer him a qualifying offer, he can test the free market.

Matur plays for the NBA G League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers and is looking to break into the NBA.

The 19-year-old Makur is expected to announce in the next few days whether he will enter the June 25 NBA draft, take up one of the many offers from elite U.S. colleges or pursue other playing options including the new G League pathway program.

The deadline to declare for the draft is Sunday.

"The beauty of Makur's situation is even if he enters the draft, he doesn't lose his college eligibility as long as he doesn't sign with an agent," the Makers' longtime mentor, Ed Smith, said.

"He could still go to college. It is a wait-and-see process."

Susnjara describes Makur as a "phenomenal talent."

"I don't think Australia knows enough about him," Susnjara said. "He's a future Olympian."

Thon underwent a 14-day quarantine last month after Pistons teammate Christian Wood tested positive for the coronavirus.

When Thon got the all-clear, he rented a house in Los Angeles, and the Makers' workout sessions began with a portable basketball hoop on grass in the backyard.

"We couldn't do anything off the bounce or post work," Susnjara laughed.

They went in search of a suitable basketball facility, heard about the private, 24-hour indoor court they eventually settled on and reserved the midnight-2 a.m. slots to ensure privacy.

The Makers and Susnjara limit contact between them as much as possible.

"Nobody touches their face during the drills," Smith said. "You have towels to wipe your sweat. You are aware of everything you are doing."

At the end of a recent session, Smith gave the Maker boys a bowl full of banana bread his wife cooked.

They washed their hands and Makur picked up the bowl.

"He holds it in one hand and then goes to sit down but his other hand touches a chair that wasn't wiped off and he was about to touch the bread," Smith said.

"Thon was like, 'Hey! Hold the bowl with the other hand.'"