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NBL MI3: Missing Imports x3
While the title certainly suggests Mission Impossible, three out of the eight NBL clubs face a tough task this week and beyond in order to either rectify their season, force their way into the post-season, or solidify their position in the playoffs. If you're an NBL junkie this season, you'll know exactly the teams I'm referring to when describing the three teams. The Townsville Crocodiles, Wollongong Hawks and Sydney Kings have all had a bumpy week in preparation to their Round 19 match-ups with imports Josh Pace, Kevin Tiggs and Charles Carmouche all being withdrawn respectively. So what's actually happened? Let's take a closer look at the three amigos on an action packed day for the NBL:
Kevin Tiggs (Wollongong Hawks)
Tiggs was the first cab off the rank, with the Hawks franchise releasing a statement early this morning stating that he had been rushed into emergency knee surgery last night, in order to remove a portion of torn meniscus in his right knee. While Tiggs is hopeful of returning before the end of the regular season, an injury to this extent can quite easily extend his time on the sidelines much further past their clash with Perth on the 23rd of March.
Credit: Joel Armstrong |
Wollongong Hawks The sixth man for Wollongong is certainly a massive loss for the red-hot Hawks, who were storming back into playoff contention with a positive month of February. According to the guys at Crunchtime Shots (crunchtimeshots.com.au) and Lob Pass To Abercrombie (lobpasstoabercrombie.com), Kevin Tiggs has the highest usage rate in the competition at 37.5%, which is much more than any other player in the competition (Ennis and Young second at 30.9%). Wollongong face New Zealand tomorrow night in what looms to be a must win clash for both outfits. Tickets are available at a discounted rate so all Wollongong locals make sure you make your way down to the Wollongong Entertainment Centre and buy a ticket or four.
Charles Carmouche (Sydney Kings)
Carmouche's situation is one totally different to the former, as he has no sign of injury. The Sydney Kings and Carmouche, via mutual agreement have allowed the point guard to return to the United States for personal reasons.
Credit: Geoff Tripp for photography. In a statement made by the club:
“The Sydney Kings are very supportive of Charles and the Club wishes him all the best in this difficult time,” - Sydney Kings General Manager, Rod Harys.
This now puts the Kings in a very strange situation, having already had their 'Point Guard' saga take place earlier in the season, when the decision to part ways with Jesse Sanders was made to make way for import Sam Young, which saw a huge boost in minutes for Carmouche. In what could now be a back to the future scenario, Sanders is seen to be the only possible replacement if the Kings are looking towards qualifying a point guard for the playoffs, if Carmouche is unable to return in time. The requirement to qualify for the playoffs is to play at least seven games throughout the regular season. The Kings have eight games remaining, including this weekend's road double in which they travel to Queensland. Head coach Shane Heal has already made it clear that they will play with the team they have now for these two encounters, which leaves only six games left for the season. Is Jesse Sanders the answer once again Kings fans?
Josh Pace (Townsville Crocodiles)
The final import which you will not see on the hardwood this weekend is Josh Pace. The Crocs swingman has been suspended by the club due to an incident which he was driving under the influence of alcohol which he managed to crash his vehicle. While no official statement has been released, Pace will sit for this weekend's game against the Sydney Kings and will be set to return in next week's clash in New Zealand against the Breakers. Although this is an odd incident, the Crocodiles have sent the right message throughout the league that no club should put up with any sort of negative off-court behaviour. Pace will be a big loss for the Crocs, who are playing for respect at this stage of the season with the side sitting last on the NBL table, two games behind both Wollongong and Cairns. Pace has averaged 14.9ppg and 5.1rpg throughout his 19 game stint this season, which will need to be filled on the weekend.