BRISBANE coach Andrej Lemanis says the wounded Bullets need to get fit before they can start firing ahead of the 2018-19 NBL season.
An up-tempo Cairns blew away the below-strength Bullets by 21 points in a pre-season hitout in Rockhampton on Friday night after the two teams had a behind-closed-doors scrimmage on Wednesday.
Brisbane were without Cam Gliddon (back), Mika Vukona (hand), Makoto Hiejima (international duties) and recently signed US import Alonzo Gee while the slick Taipans led by OKC Thunder NBA draft pick Devon Hall, Melo Trimble and Dexter Kernich-Drew did not have the services of import DJ Newbill and Lucas Walker.
Boomers trio Jason Cadee (ankle), Adam Gibson (calf) and Matt Hodgson (knee) all hit the floor for Brisbane but had playing time restrictions due to niggling injuries that have stopped them from training in recent weeks.
Rio Olympian and former Chicago Bulls forward Cam Bairstow made his return to competitive basketball during the two hit-outs in Rockhampton after 18 months on the sidelines following a serious knee injury.
He hit just one of his 12 field goal attempts on Friday night but the number that mattered most for Bairstow — who finished with seven points and seven rebounds — was the precious 20 minutes and 51 seconds he spent on court.
Lemanis said the return of Bairstow was a positive to come out of Brisbane’s trip to Rockhampton but the Bullets need their walking wounded up and running as soon as possible.
“To see Bear on court playing … it’s been a long road back for him and there’s all the confidence issues that come with that so to see him getting through games is certainly pleasing,’’ Lemanis said.
“The number one thing for us at the moment is that we need to get healthy. We had guys sitting out but we also had guys on minute restrictions.
“We need to get this group to a place where everybody is able to practice every day so we can go at it. We need to be at that point where we are able to practice hard and get better.’’
With the FIBA World Cup qualification game window opening in the coming weeks, Brisbane’s next pre-season matches will be at the NBL Blitz in Bendigo and Ballarat from September 20-23 when they play Illawarra, Melbourne and Sydney.
The Mike Kelly-coached Taipans will play New Zealand, Perth and Sydney at the Blitz tournament.