AAP image/Linda Higginson
Tasmania JackJumpers star Josh Magette faces a long road to recovery after suffering a suspected broken cheekbone that has left him unable to travel by plane.
The American point guard was set to return to the island state by ferry across Bass Strait from Victoria on Monday night ahead of detailed medical assessments.
Magette received an elbow to the face in the JackJumpers’ 24-point win over Illawarra on Saturday that secured fourth place and an opening playoff match against Cairns Taipans on Thursday.
He is long odds to feature in the finals for Tasmania, who have again made the top four after last season’s stunning run to the grand final series in their NBL debut.
Coach Scott Roth has visited Magette’s parents, who are in Tasmania, saying they were quite concerned.
“He’s a long way away from just being out and about, to be honest,” Roth told reporters.
“He’s not in a very good spot right now. It’s going to take some time for him just to get back on his feet. He took a severe, severe hit to the head.”
Roth said further assessments of Magette’s injury would be made in Hobart.
“He’s got a long road ahead of him. It’s a shame about the timing,” he said.
“He’s an integral part of what we do. It’s not so much his play, to be very honest.
“With our group it’s about the personalities of the players. Just missing him at the dinners, his little quirks … that the team has grown accustomed to.
“(But) obviously he’s a heck of a player.”
Tasmania have other injury concerns ahead of the Taipans game, with big man Will Magnay battling a swollen lip that almost needed stitches.
Captain Clint Steindl will undergo an MRI scan after leaving the court early against Illawarra with leg soreness.
Roth’s side has at least some reprieve, with forward Rashard Kelly set to return after sitting out one game with illness.
Under the new NBL finals format, the winner of the JackJumpers/Taipans clash in Cairns will progress to a three-game semi-final series against New Zealand.
The loser goes to a one-off play-in game against the winner of Thursday night’s play-in qualifier between South East Melbourne Phoenix and Perth Wildcats.