Alexandre Sarr and Rocco Zikarsky are set to do battle for the first time, in what looms a rivalry for years to come.

27 Oct
By Dan Woods for

NBL fans have the opportunity to gain an insight into the beginning of what looms as a high-class NBA-level matchup for years to come, when Rocco Zikarsky faces off against Alexandre Sarr on Friday night. 

Zikarsky’s Bullets travel to Sarr’s Wildcats in what is shaping up to be a must-win game for two sides who are currently battling it out at the wrong end of the ladder, and both Next Stars are expected to earn strong burn as their sides look for a win.

With some mock drafts currently placing Sarr as high as the top two picks in the 2024 NBA Draft, the likelihood of seeing him in the NBL past this campaign is basically nil, but the Bullets will be able to call on Zikarsky for at least one more season, until he’s draft eligible in 2025.

Both players are rising stars of the center position in the world of basketball, and NBL analyst and GM of Next Stars Recruitment Liam Santamaria offered an insight into the mouthwatering matchup on NBL Now.

“Rocco Zikarsky measures himself up against Alex Sarr,” Santamaria said.

“Two elite international bigs – they’re going to play against each other in the NBA for years and they were both at the U17 World Cup not long ago.

“They didn’t actually match up, they would have matched up in the finals if Australia had have continued to win. They were two of the three or four premium bigs at that world event, along with a guy like Aday Mara of Spain. I think Rocco in particular is going to be up for this matchup.

“This is two elite young athletes at the top of their game across world basketball who want to prove themselves against each other.”

Outside of the Next Stars battle that looms, a wider war will be waged between the Wildcats and Bullets, as both sides are reaching the stage of being in dire need of a win.

Brisbane started the season on fire with two straight victories, but has since fallen to drop their past four games.

The Wildcats sit equal with the Bullets with a 2-4 record as they look to pull themselves out of the lowest position they have been in, since Bryce Cotton joined the roster in 2017.

“They need it, both teams need it, and that’s the situation the Wildcats were in when they played Adelaide the other day against a similarly desperate team, so it doesn’t get any easier,” Santamaria said.

“They’re missing guys – key guys – and if you look at the Bullets and the way they structure their roster they’ve got two marquees and two imports, so four in total and they’re missing two of those guys in Shannon Scott and Aron Baynes.

“You should take care of business against this team on your home floor, but if Brisbane can keep it close and keep Bryce Cotton under wraps like some teams have been able to do recently, then you’d imagine the Wildcats are going to get pretty tired down the stretch.”

The Bullets and Wildcats clash at 9:30pm AEDT, live on ESPN via Kayo.

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