Star import set to make debut for injury-hit Bullets
BRISBANE will have a shortage of experienced big men for tonight's NBL pre-season game against Illawarra at Logan Metro after power forward Mitch Young was diagnosed with glandular fever.
Young and centre Tom Jervis (broken finger) will be sidelined tonight, but they and guard Shaun Bruce (ankle) are gunning to be fit for Brisbane's round-one clash with the Wildcats in Perth on October 7.
The Bullets will now suit up Logan product and 214cm-tall development player Tyrell Harrison to help the likes of Daniel Kickert and Anthony Petrie in the paint against the Hawks.
Callum Dalton, an Australian under-age representative and son of former Boomer Mark Dalton, trained with the Bullets at Logan yesterday as possible extra cover.
Import Perrin Buford, who produced a thunderous high-flying dunk during a scrimmage at training midweek, is expected to make his first full-throttle appearance for the club after overcoming a virus.
"That's certainly the plan. We were hoping to see lots of him (Buford) at the Blitz but he was struck down with illness but he's had a good week at practice now," Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said.
Illawarra was vanquished by Perth in last year's NBL grand final and won all four clashes with the injury-hit Brisbane during the regular season to be the only team to sweep the Bullets in 2016-17.
The underrated Hawks will be contenders again under the guidance of astute head coach Rob Beveridge, with the core of the side returning.
Lemanis said it was another good challenge for his squad, which has beaten 2016-17 minor premier Adelaide and semi-finalist Cairns this pre-season, along with the highly fancied Sydney Kings.
"You always want to play against the best teams. Illawarra is a good team and will be a really good hit-out for us," Lemanis said.
"One of the things that makes them a challenging team is their chemistry. They've kept their core together and that continuity has enabled them to play at a certain level.
"They are an interesting group in that they play two very different styles. They start much more defensively focused and offensively they pound you inside. When they start subbing they become a three-point shooting group so they challenge your defence to make those adjustments."
Lemanis said the 0-4 record against the Hawks last season was partly due to the quirk of the draw when all four games took place as Brisbane was struck by a string of injuries.
"We didn't play Illawarra until the back end. We had some competitive hit-outs and had our opportunities to beat them but they are a very good team who shoot well," he said.