Basketball: Corey Webster cleared of major injury

By Niall Anderson

Corey Webster. Photo / Getty
Corey Webster. Photo / Getty

Tall Blacks shooting guard Corey Webster has been cleared to play at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Manila next week.

Webster's status was under an injury cloud after he suffered a calf strain in a 84-55 defeat at the hands of Latvia.

However, scans have cleared Webster of any long-term damage, making him likely to be at full capacity when the qualifiers begin against the Philippines on Thursday.

Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare says Webster still has some recovery to do before he is back to full health.

"At this stage he's had an initial scan and been cleared of any major structural damage in the muscle so it's good news for us, but there's still some work to do and a recovery process before we hit the track in Manila in just over a week's time," Henare told Radio Sport.

Webster had come off his best game of the tour with 29 points against Iran, and his absence led to a sluggish second-half offensive performance against Latvia.

"He was just starting to find his stride with how he was playing and his match fitness so the timing is unfortunate. When Corey went down we struggled to put points on the board - he's such an influential guy on the floor in terms of our offence," said Henare.

Webster will miss the Tall Blacks' clash with the powerful Lithuania side tomorrow morning, meaning a re-distribution of the offensive workload will be in order for Henare.

"It will be a good chance for us - other guys are forced to step up in the offensive flow of things - which is what we've had in the tournament and China and even to a certain extent against Iran, we had different guys stepping up and taking on some of that scoring load. Without him playing tomorrow it's a good opportunity for some of those guys to step up and do that."

"It gives a guy like Everard Bartlett a chance to step up and get some more regular minutes and possibly see Tai Webster at the two a little bit more - it will be one of those games where we experiment and put different guys out there in different positions and see how they respond."

Lithuania represent the Tall Blacks' final warm-up game before they travel to Manila for their last-gasp chance at qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.

- NZ Herald

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