Perth head coach John Rillie has confirmed Next Star Alex Sarr will make his first appearance since Round 13.

24 Jan
By Dan Woods for

Perth head coach John Rillie has confirmed Next Star Alexandre Sarr will make his return to the court in the Wildcats’ Thursday night clash with Illawarra, but has maintained his mantra that the French prospect’s minutes will be earned, not given.

Sarr has been sidelined with a hip injury since Round 14. During his time off the court Perth has won all four of their games, and ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony has asserted the minor injury has not impacted Sarr’s draft stock.

“Yes, he is,” Rillie simply replied when asked if Sarr was available this weekend.

“I’m not managing his minutes, it will be how he performs on the court. The good thing is he’s practiced for the last couple of days and he’s conditioning and so forth.

“His acclimation back into the group and practice has been very good.

“Part of sport is injury, and I don’t wish to linger on that because we believe in our squad and we believe in the guys on the roster, so when their number and opportunity gets called it’s on them to perform and they’ve done a terrific job on that.

“Any time guys get an opportunity and they make the most of it, that’s really pleasing.”

Should Perth win both of its Round 17 games and other results fall the Wildcats’ way, they could move to the top of the NBL standings for the first time this season.

Melbourne has had a stranglehold on the top spot on the ladder since it’s opening night win over South East Melbourne back in Round 1, but that could be about to change.

Rillie says his side is purely focused on not allowing a repeat of the 18-point loss that occurred last time Perth played Thursday’s opposition, Illawarra.

“All we can do is worry about us, I know it’s cliché but that’s how I live. If we don’t take care of our own, we can’t worry about the stuff you guys worry about. First and foremost, we have to win two games,” he continued.

“Last time we played them (the Hawks) they were playing well, they had emotion with his (interim coach Justin Tatum) appointment, we were down – people are finally realising Tai Webster is a very important piece to our team.

“In saying that we weren’t ready, and if we don’t come out ready tomorrow it doesn’t matter what our scouting report says, it’s going to be a tough night.

“If we’re functioning at a good level it is about us, it is not about who we’re playing.”

Perth’s clash with Illawarra will be shown live on ESPN via Kayo on Thursday night at 9:30pm AEDT.

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