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Cairns and Perth face NBL fitness concerns

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/01/2017 Josh Bristow

Cairns and Perth are sweating on the fitness of key players ahead of their NBL clash in Perth on Friday, following the Taipans' nail-biting 80-78 win over the Wildcats at the Cairns Convention Centre on Monday night.

Perth import Casey Prather was a late scratching from the premiers' on Monday and Taipans veteran forward Mark Worthington didn't play due to shoulder soreness.

The Wildcats weren't keen to divulge the extent of Prather's injury but were quick to rally around the 25-year-old forward following the loss.

"We don't want to risk him hurting himself, he tried the best he could. I know he is hurting - he feels like he has let us down but he is a guy we love," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"Hopefully we get Casey healthy and have every one healthy - I have so much faith and confidence in this team."

Greg Hire stepped up to start in Prather's absence and scored 10 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists, although he didn't enjoy the circumstances of his promotion.

"I only found out literally as we were starting our warmup; not happy to get a starting spot in this situation," he said.

"I would have rather Casey came off the bench, but you have to take every opportunity."

Like the Wildcats with Prather, Cairns might be without a key player in Worthington for Friday night's rematch.

"I don't really have an answer whether he's going to play later this week, we'll have to see how he pulls up during the week," Cairns coach Aaron Fearne said.

Just as concerning for the Taipans might be how easily they gave up a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter on Monday, before scraping through for the win.

"It's disappointing we couldn't put them away the right way, it's just that concentration to the very last second," Fearne said.

"Up at 12 points some of us thought it was all over. It isn't."

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