Barlow on guard for more NBL fixture chaos

David Barlow handles the ball for United. Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images

Never before has the 'one game at a time' mantra been more appropriate in the NBL than it is right now.

The league has been rocked this month by a growing number of positive COVID-19 cases, which have wreaked havoc with the early-season schedule.

A string of match-ups have been moved or postponed and more are likely to be, with the league giving itself a buffer against the effects of those forced changes by implementing a rolling fixture.

It's why veteran forward David Barlow has narrowed his focus ahead of a January schedule that - as it stands for now - presents Melbourne United with a tough five-game road trip.

It begins with United's first-ever meeting with league newcomers Tasmania JackJumpers on New Year's Day.

"In the current climate, I don't know if you can really bank on the schedule being set in stone at this stage," Barlow said.

"My focus personally has been reasonably narrow, at this stage just focusing on Tassie and trying to do our best down there.

"Whatever happens after that ... we'll see what happens.

"Hopefully we'll get the win in Tassie and then deal with whatever comes."

Barlow feels for NBL officials trying to re-organise the fixture and expects ongoing COVID-19 issues throughout the season as reigning champions United defend their title.

"It's an issue that everyone's dealing with and it's a level playing field," Barlow said.

"We're not looking at it as a huge deal, we're just trying to deal with whatever hand we get dealt."

United's campaign got of to a slow start with defeats in their opening two games, but Chris Goulding's return from a hamstring injury has helped turn their fortunes around.

Goulding has averaged 18 points per game in three-straight wins leading into the JackJumpers clash in Hobart, with the experienced guard forming a strong back-court partnership with Nigeria's Tokyo Olympian Caleb Agada.

"It's great having CG back, he's a huge part of our team, and they've both been brilliant," Barlow said.

"They're amazing weapons to have on the court and them playing well and shooting well is something other teams have to contend with.

"It makes life a lot easier for us."