Team first for injured Saint Damien Ekenasio

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 25/05/2013

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Captain Damien Ekenasio will play through the pain barrier as a banged-up Saints squad open a run of four games in nine days at Waitakere tomorrow.

Ekenasio has a plantar fascia tear in a foot but with Corey Webster and Mike Homik also on the injured list, the confrontational forward will suit up.

"Damien's really soldiering on for us," said Saints coach Pero Cameron.

"He's playing tough because we're down men. I don't want to elaborate but it's something he's decided he can live with and that he can play on."

Cameron said Webster (ankle) and Homik (calf) would probably miss tomorrow's game against the Rangers, "but I couldn't absolutely say."

"We're really missing Corey's scoring punch but also Mike's experience and what he brings in sheer size to our team."

Even with their injury issues the Saints (5-2) should have the depth to comfortably account for the Rangers (1-6), who notched a surprise win over Hawke's Bay last weekend.

The Saints are highly motivated after having the bye last weekend to reflect on their losses to Manawatu and Nelson.

"We're amped up," said Cameron, who nominated rebounding and transition defence as the main areas requiring improvement.

"We were disappointed as a group with our performances but that was some time ago. Rebounding requires all five guys boxing out their man. When we do get five guys back behind the ball we're good but when we don't, we struggle."

The Saints host unbeaten Otago on Tuesday but Cameron was confident his veterans would first take care of tomorrow's business.

"Tuesday's a big game but not as big as the one that's in front of us on Sunday. Our core guys are experienced and I don't think they'll let themselves down or each other. They're proven winners but it doesn't happen easy."

American import Carl Buck leads the Rangers in points and assists but Cameron also has a lot of time for Breakers academy player Jack Salt.

"He's got size, length and good skill around the basket with his left hand."

HOW THEY LINE UP

What: National Basketball League, round six

Where: Trusts Arena, Waitakere

When: 3pm tomorrow

Waitakere: Carl Buck, Joshua Tuaiti, Shea Ili, Houston O'Riley, Duane Bailey, Jason Goodwin, Christoph Fahrensohn, Johnny Fesolai, Robson Tavita, Cameron Stuart, Patrich Bolstad, Jack Salt

Saints: Lindsay Tait, Andrew Warren, Bryant Markson, Dillon Boucher, Casey Frank, Corey Webster, Mike Homik, Damien Ekenasio, Jordan Mills, Arthur Trousdell, Jason Thompson, Victor Groom

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