After a stint on the sidelines earlier in the season, Melbourne United's Mason Peatling is looking forward to the rest of the season. (Image: @nbl1 - Twitter / Design: Will Cuckson).

The Melbourne United star is learning to take things as they come. Following his recent return to the court, he's looking to keep doing just that.

Mason Peatling is used to the trials and tribulations of basketball, though it isn’t something that he allows himself to dwell on. He instead uses the challenges, and bad days to push himself forward.

It’s the mindset that has helped him make a successful return back onto the court following his absence for the first ten games of the season.

The Melbourne United star spoke exclusively with The Inner Sanctum about his return.

“It feels good to be playing again. When you miss a stretch of games you just want to be a part of it and it gets you that much more hungry to be back on the floor again,” Peatling shared. 

“[I’m] super excited to be back on the court again.”

The 25-year-old was determined to do what he could to bounce back following knee surgery in the off-season, spending a number of months building up his strength over time. Though he admits that it was “very enticing” to get right back to a usual routine with “more shooting” and more involvement in “team practices” because he “just want[ed] to do it all”. 

Peatling made his first appearance this season in round seven against the Adelaide 36ers, and as expected, he picked up from where left off in 2021. He finished the night with 11 points, three rebounds, and an assist.

Since then, he has continued to enchant fans on the court weekly.

During our conversation, it was evident that he was accustomed to the challenges that come with being a basketballer. He was cordial in his response to a question about his motivations for the bad days.

Peatling emphasised the importance of “taking your time” and “not rushing” things when confronted with such obstacles.

“I think that there wouldn’t be too many players in the history of basketball that haven’t been injured at one stage or another. Even the bad days, I’d say that there’s no one player that’s never lost a game either,” he said.

“That’s what makes winning and being successful so much fun because the highs [that are made] are much more higher because of the lows that come with the game.

“So taking it day by day and trusting with a lot of hard work, repetition and good team camaraderie that the good things will come in the future is definitely the right way to go about it.” 

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Peatling’s optimism seems to have helped on his journey so far. The talented forward has enjoyed a host of impressive accomplishments, including being named the Big Sky Conference’s MVP whilst with Eastern Washington in 2020.

However, Peatling was full of fondness as he recalled the year when Melbourne won the NBL championship and revealed that it’s a moment he feels most proud of.

“To win the NBL championship with the team I grew up watching was super, super special and awesome to share it with friends and family in Melbourne as well,” he said.

It was a dream come true for Peatling who found a love for the sport in his childhood years.

“I think what really got me into it was that it was a fun game to play with my friends at school,” he shared.

“I played footy a lot growing up but at the end of primary school I fell more in love with basketball, and I just really enjoyed the fact that with five players on the court everyone was really, really important all the time, for every second of the game.”

What first began as a pastime with friends soon blossomed into a genuine ambition that has led the basketballer to the Dandenong Rangers, Victoria Metro, and to Eastern Washington where he played in the college system.

As his tenure with Eastern Washington drew to a close, Peatling soon signed on with Melbourne United, which he admits is “really cool” to be playing in the city he grew up into this day.

“When I was growing up the Melbourne Tigers and then the Melbourne United were the teams that I used to support in the NBL. I remember going to watch the players,” he said.

“Even guys like David Barlow and Chris Goulding, I remember watching them before I went to college.”

Peatling went on to elaborate that it’s not only playing with the team that means a great deal to him. He says that it’s “special” for him to be able to wear jerseys like the multicultural and Indigenous jerseys which hold great significance.

Many harbour hopes of playing basketball professionally. Peatling knows this, acknowledging the resilience needed to achieve making it to the elite level of the sport. He shared that from the moment he arrives at the stadium, he always makes it a priority to interact with his teammates and make them feel comfortable ahead of game days.

“I just like to have a joke with my teammates and talk to everyone because every game is just a really good opportunity to just enjoy being an NBL player,” he said.

“It takes a lot of work to get to this level.”

His good-natured spirit often shows strongly both on and off the court, and has led him to receive the nickname of Horse from his United teammates. Its origin, as Peatling explains, began before he was signed to the team.

“So when I was first trying out for United, we played a couple of closed-door games. [With] the way I play, I sort of set screens, push people around and I play a very physical game,” Peatling said.

“Chris Goulding one day saw me do a couple of things on the court that he really liked and he started screaming ‘horse, horse’ which was pretty funny and pretty cool. But it stuck and so everybody calls me Horse now.

“It’s funny how it sort of started and just sort of stuck.”

Peatling with his teammates during a game. (Image: @MelbUnited Twitter).

Peatling opened up on his journey with United over the last few years, reflecting on the growth that he’s made as a basketballer during that time.

“I would say that over the last three years I’ve been able to have a really good understanding of what I have to do in my position in the NBL, and how to defend at a high level against really challenging offensive players,” he explained.

He says players like Robert Franks, Jarrell Brantley, and Finn Delany are among those who he has played against that has contributed to his evolution as a player.

“These are really tough guys to guard and tough guys to play on over my three years at the NBL,” he said.

“I’ve gained the confidence in being able to defend and score a couple of points on the other end too when it’s my turn.”

He had high praise for all the coaches that he’s come across on his journey too. For Peatling, a balance of identifying areas for improvement and celebrating your strengths is the common philosophy among all those he’s played under.

“I think a lot of the time basketball players can focus on what they’re not good at,” he said.

“But if they also focus on what they are good at and what they can add to the team, whether it’s just one or two things, it can often lead to them a better basketball player, but also the team a better team.”

Peatling in action on the court. (Image: @MelbUnited – Twitter).

With Peatling back to where he belongs on the court, he has his full focus on the season ahead. Now that he’s returned he’s ready to do everything he can to help his teammates succeed and help the team do well.

His return comes at an interesting time for Melbourne United, which Peatling touched upon during our conversation. Roster changes and injuries encompass the team’s season campaign so far.

An added challenge will be thrown into the mix with a Christmas Day match-up against the Sydney Kings fast approaching.

Peatling was upbeat on the “unique sort of situation”. He acknowledges that whilst it’ll be a first for everyone, he suggested that it’s something that everyone “will just have to make the best of it”.

“For us this season, we’re just going to take it week by week. There’s been a lot of changes to our team this year,” Peatling added.

“Even during the season, we’ve had a lot of guys coming in, a lot of guys coming out.

“But we’re just going to keep trying to get as better as we can, as quick as we can. Improve and try to get some more results on the way.”

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