The Wollongong Hawks could be without star recruit Adris Deleon for tonight’s road meeting with the Cairns Taipans.
Down two key players already, the Hawks might lose Deleon to a toe injury.
Though the 180cm point guard didn’t train on Wednesday, he flew to Cairns with his teammates yesterday and expects to play.
But even though Wollongong are already without guard Tyson Demos (knee) and forward Tim Coenraad (foot), coach Gordie McLeod won’t take any risks if Deleon struggles through tonight’s pre-game warm-up.
‘‘I hope he’s able to play and Adris is confident he’ll be OK, but it’s something we have to be careful with,’’ McLeod said. ‘‘It flared up during the week and we didn’t want to risk it by having him practise. He saw the doctor and got some stuff for it and hopefully it settles down.’’
Deleon came off the bench in last week’s season-opening victory over Sydney, scoring 12 points on 4/13 shooting and dishing out three assists in 29 minutes of court time.
He is expected to be elevated to the first five in the coming weeks, but fellow playmaker Rhys Martin will keep his starting spot against the Taipans. Demos made the trip to Cairns, though McLeod won’t call his number ‘‘unless it’s an absolute necessity’’.
‘‘Tyson’s been given the green light to get a bit of contact work under his belt and we’ll start loading him up and get him ready for a return,’’ the 2009-10 NBL Coach of the Year said.
Demos is almost certain to be back on deck for Sunday week’s round-three home game against Townsville, while Coenraad is hoping to return in round five or six.
Cairns might be the deepest team in the league and are widely tipped to finish in the top four. The Taipans kickstarted their 2012-13 campaign in style with last week’s comfortable home win over north Queensland rivals Townsville.
Leading the way was former Hawks forward Cam Tragardh. ‘‘We’re up against a very well-coached, well-organised team,’’ McLeod said. ‘‘They’re a team that has been right up there the last few years – they were in the grand final two seasons ago – and they’re constantly finding ways to get better.
‘‘They’ve injected some young blood into the group with guys [rookies Clint Steindl and Cameron Gliddon] who’ve had good college careers. They’ve got good veterans, good guards and we all know what Trigger’s [Tragardh] capable of."