Luke Travers among Perth Wildcats players unavailable to play nBL game against Adelaide 36ers due to COVID-19

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Craig O'DonoghueThe West Australian
Luke Travers won’t play against Adelaide after running out of days to recover from COVID-19.
Camera IconLuke Travers won’t play against Adelaide after running out of days to recover from COVID-19. Credit: Sarah Reed/Getty Images

Perth Wildcats will return from being struck down with COVID-19 without Luke Travers, Kyle Zunic and Mitch Clarke but coach Scott Morrison is adamant being undermanned won’t be considered an excuse for a poor performance against Adelaide on Tuesday.

Thirteen Wildcats spent a week in isolation while recovering from COVID-19 and the three youngsters who remained in Hobart were the final players to test positive.

Travers will be sorely missed given he’s had a massive impact for the Wildcats all season. His scoring and rebounding has given the team a different dimension both as a starter and off the bench.

The trio are expected to be fit for Saturday’s clash with the Illawarra Hawks, but with Todd Blanchfield needing to pass a game day fitness test on his knee to face the 36ers, the Wildcats could be well below full strength.

While games have been postponed throughout the NBL to give teams the chance to fully recover from COVID-19, Morrison said he understood the league’s desire to start playing. The Wildcats haven’t played since New Year’s Eve and their previous match before then was on December 18.

“It’s something we expected. At least we have 10 or 11 guys to play,” he said.

Scott Morrison is demanding no excuses from his team despite missing three players because of COVID-19.
Camera IconScott Morrison is demanding no excuses from his team despite missing three players because of COVID-19. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

“It’s been too long without a game. I think everyone wants to play. We haven’t had a full roster all season and we’ve done okay. We have a deep team and this is one of the things which will test how deep we are and of we can play well under adversity which we have so far..”

Adelaide have had even longer sitting idle. Their last game was a loss to Cairns on December 18.

How the players recover from COVID-19 and adjust to the time off will play a huge role in the contest. Morrison said it would be important to give players rest when required but he wouldn’t be letting anyone fall into the trap of feeling sorry for themselves when things get tough.

“For the guys who have played ball in the US, I kind of likened it to going to Denver which is a very high altitude city,” Morrison said.

“People always complain about the altitude and getting their second wind. As a coach going to Denver, you always looked for the guys who were complaining because they’re going to be the first guys to quit. I don’t expect any of our guys to be complaining.

“We want to get out to a good start. We’ve seen other teams who have had lay-offs get off to slow starts and it’s hurt them.”

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