Perth Wildcats know they need to start well against Illawarra Hawks as Luke Travers returns

Headshot of Craig O'Donoghue
Craig O'DonoghueThe West Australian
Luke Travers will return from having COVID-19.
Camera IconLuke Travers will return from having COVID-19. Credit: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Perth Wildcats will enter Saturday’s clash with Illawarra significantly healthier and with more firepower than during their loss to Adelaide on Tuesday with excitement machine Luke Travers among the additions to the team.

Travers, Kyle Zunic and Mitch Clarke all missed the loss to the 36ers after failing to recover from COVID-19 in time, and other Wildcats had barely had any time in public since completing their isolation period in Hobart.

Mitch Norton and Todd Blanchfield were also working their way back to fitness after recent knee injuries.

But only Development Player Corey Shervill (foot) is now unavailable, leaving Perth with a virtually full strength squad.

Superstar Bryce Cotton said Travers would be a significant addition.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 25:  Luke Travers of the Wildcats shoots during game three of the NBL Grand Final Series between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on June 25, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
Camera IconLuke Travers has been fantastic this season. Credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

“It’s going to be big,” Cotton said.

“Any time we get anybody back who plays significant minutes, we need all the help we can get. We know what Luke brings to the table as well, I think he’s playing with more and more confidence. To have him back ion the floor will be great for us.”

The Wildcats have promised to place an added emphasis on their starts to games after being blown away early by Adelaide and Cairns.

The Taipans led by 18 points before Perth fought back to win, but the Wildcats couldn’t bridge the 28-point deficit that opened up between them and the 36ers.

Both Illawarra and Perth have experienced players being struck down by COVID-19, but the Hawks have played two matches since their return.

Cotton believes his team will be better off for having played last week and since having more time to train.

“Any time you have to go into isolation or anything like that for seven days or longer, you are naturally going to be a little bit more winded than normal when you first come out,” Cotton said.

“That’s just your body getting used to being back to its normal routine. Now, after the last game, it’s a better opportunity for us to get our wind back in actual game shape instead of practice.

“in the grand scheme of things, seven days isn’t that long of a time considering we’ve been in pretty good shape for the last two or three months. I’d imagine everybody will feel fine and have their legs back under them.”

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