The New Zealand Breakers are sweating on the health of Kerron Johnson heading into tonight's clash against the Melbourne Tigers in Auckland, after the key point guard injured his shoulder last week.
Johnson, who suffered the injury in the Breakers' 91-84 defeat of the Townsville Crocodiles last Friday, trained earlier this week, but sat out training yesterday before meeting surgeons for a damage assessment of his shoulder.
Though Breakers coach Dean Vickerman was confident the American import would play tonight, he conceded that it wasn't a certainty.
"There's some swelling in there that we know about, but we'll see what comes out of it," Vickerman told media.
"He's had MRIs [but] it's a little bit inconclusive about what it is. We just need more information."
After a slow start - especially from the free-throw line - Johnson has become an improving presence for the Breakers on court as the team look to get their season, now 3-6, back on track.
Veteran CJ Bruton and Corey Webster will be in line take Johnson's place as starting point guard if the American is ruled out of tonight's match at the North Shore Events Centre.
"As a coaching staff, we believe Kerron is going to play, and obviously the contingency is CJ and Corey," Vickerman said.
"Either one of them could [start]. I couldn't confirm or deny who would do that until we hear word that Kerron is not playing."
Johnson's isn't the only Breakers player in the "walking wounded" category. Giant forward Mika Vukona missed training yesterday after taking a knock to the shoulder and experiencing neck stiffness, but is considered likely to play this evening.
Big American power forward Gary Wilkinson has been battling with back stiffness throughout the past fortnight, but will start from the bench.
The Tigers have kicked off the Australian NBL season 4-4, with shooting guard Chris Goulding getting off to an electric start for the side.
Goulding, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League, is averaging 27.3 points a game for the Tigers.
Shutting him down, particularly from long range, will be important tonight, Vickerman said.
"Goulding has obviously been a key focus for every team, to try and shut him down," he said.
"He's been shooting a lot of threes, and our job is to make those as contested as possible, and as low a percentage as possible."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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