Mattise Thybulle’s vaccination status kept him out of some of the Philadelphia 76ers’ play-offs matches against the Toronto Raptors.
Vax-hesitant Aussie Matisse Thybulle looks set to play a bigger role in the second round of the NBA play-offs than he did in the first, now that he’s no longer subject to Canada’s Covid vaccine mandate.
On Friday (AEST), Thybulle’s Philadelphia 76ers thoroughly outclassed the Toronto Raptors 132-97, notching the last win required to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
There, they’ll meet the Miami Heat for as many as seven playoff games.
Josh Green is the only other Aussie in the hunt for NBA glory; his Dallas Mavericks edged the Utah Jazz out 98-96 on Friday and will play the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semi-finals.
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Thybulle had one shot of the Pfizer vaccine last year but opted not to have a second when he realised he was still a chance to spread Covid-19 even if vaccinated.
“I just didn’t feel like it would benefit me. I didn’t see any benefits outweighing what I could seek from alternative medicine,” Thybulle said earlier this month.
As a result, he was unavailable for the third, fourth and sixth games of Philly’s series with the Raptors that were hosted in Toronto.
Thybulle is available for selection in every remaining game of the Sixers’ season, given no state where he would have to play has a vaccine mandate for athletes.
His return looms as a huge boost for Philly.
Renowned for his agility and reliability in defence, Thybulle made more steals than any other Sixer this season and recorded the second-most blocks, trailing only MVP hopeful Joel Embiid.
Aussies Ben Simmons and Patty Mills, and Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving, bowed out of the post-season earlier this week when the Boston Celtics handed the Brooklyn Nets their fourth playoffs loss in as many games.
The Nets faithful had been hoping Simmons would recover from a back injury in time to make his franchise debut in the fourth match of the series.
Instead, Simmons was a late out after experiencing back soreness in the lead-up to the match that ended the Nets’ season.