The Wellington Saints are in the hunt for a temporary import after news that star American guard Eric Devendorf is out for at least three games.
Saints boss Nick Mills said Devendorf, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Friday's loss to Nelson, would miss this weekend's double header against Waikato and Taranaki and the June 4 game against Otago.
Devendorf leaves a big hole in the third-placed Saints' roster and Mills said the club was scouring Australia for a replacement.
"We're looking at our options to maybe bring an import in for a couple of weeks just to help out, or we'll just go with what we've got. We haven't really decided."
NBL rules state any import must be available for at least five games, meaning the Saints would have to gain clearance before Saturday's crunch home game against league leaders Waikato.
Devendorf could then return in place of the import at any stage.
"We could rest Eric right until the finals [starting June 22] if we wanted to," Mills said. "Eric can come back whenever he wants to."
Mills said he did not have a particular player in mind and would only move if they found the right fit to replace Devendorf, the Saints' leading scorer.
"It's a pretty hard thing to do, to find a player for a couple of weeks, so we're just exhausting our options. We wouldn't want to bring anyone over from the States, it'd be too hard and too far to travel so we're just basically looking around Australia to see if there's anyone out there.
"If we found a person that would definitely be able to help us on the weekend, then we'd take them, if we don't, then we'd rather stick with what we've got."
It is terrible timing for the Saints (9-4), who had won five straight games since acquiring the former Syracuse University star.
"It was devastating for us at the time, because we were on a roll, everything was going right," Mills said. "It is a major blow when your star player goes down with an injury in your home stretch."
The Saints were understandably rocked by Devendorf's injury on Friday, slumping to a 80-65 defeat, their first home loss of the season.
"I was pretty gutted on Friday night, I've never been so disappointed in all my life," Mills said.
"I thought it was just another bloody Wellington team choking at the wrong time. It took me two days to get over it."
The one bright light was the weekend's other results swinging the Saints' way.
Waikato and Nelson were upset by Taranaki and Christchurch, respectively, meaning the Saints are just one win behind Nelson with a game in hand.
The top two teams host semifinals with teams three to six playing in quarterfinals.
The Saints' March In: Saturday: Waikato (h) Sunday: Taranaki (a) June 4: Otago (h) June 11: Manawatu (h) June 17: Waikato (a) Standings: Waikato 24 points, Nelson 20, Saints 18, Harbour 16, Hawke's Bay 16, Christchurch 14, Southland 12, Taranaki 10, Manawatu 2, Otago 0
- The Dominion Post
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