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With a heavy heart, Mitchell returns to US

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/02/2017 Angelo Risso

Breakers forward Akil Mitchell will travel home to the United States to seek further medical advice on his injured eye.

The 24-year-old made headlines across the world last month when his left eye popped out of its socket in a mid-game collision against Cairns.

Rushed to hospital after the incident, Mitchell was able to have his eye returned to its socket and has not lost sight.

But the North Carolinian has suffered intermittent pain and light sensitivity since the incident, and hasn't progressed as anticipated in his recovery.

He'll now return Stateside to see an eye specialist known by agent Austin Brown, and who has experience with such injuries.

Mitchell will miss this Friday's final home Australian NBL match against Melbourne United, and is in doubt for the playoffs.

But he told reporters he'd be on the first flight back to Auckland if the side could do the business against the 13-13 United, in third place.

The Breakers currently sit seventh in the congested eight-team ANBL and must win the match against United, and rely on other results, to make the finals.

"If this were an ankle or knee, I think I'd stay and try to play through it, but it's my vision and something I need to take seriously," Mitchell said.

"A good bit of this is peace of mind, and being able to hear from someone I know and trust that everything will be OK.

"I must leave no stone unturned."

Mitchell has enjoyed a productive debut campaign in the ANBL, playing 25 games and notching seven rebounds a game on average.

He hoped that, even if he couldn't return in time for this season, he could play for the Breakers again in 2017-18.

Breakers boss Paul Henare lauded Mitchell's professionalism in the face of such a career-threatening injury and thanked him for his courage.

"Healing 100 per cent from this injury is of the utmost concern to Akil, and we as a team and club support him in that goal," Henare said.

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