Steven Adams' first game as Oklahoma City's regular starting centre ended in defeat on the Thunder's opening night in the NBA.

Adams' ascension to the starting five was confirmed by coach Scott Brooks yesterday but he was unable to help his injury-hit side to victory against Portland.

The Trail Blazers won their home opener 106-89 against an OKC squad missing Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and, most notably, Kevin Durant.

Adams would have started regardless of the health of his teammates, having enjoyed a handy preseason to beat out veteran Kendrick Perkins for the big man spot.

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After averaging 15 minutes, 3.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in his rookie campaign off the bench, Adams began his second season with eight points and seven boards in 27 minutes of court time.

The 21-year-old was on the sidelines as his side began the fourth quarter with a two-point lead, watching helplessly as that advantage turned into a 10-point deficit. By the time Adams was introduced midway through the period, he was unable to turn the tide as the Thunder fell to 0-1 on the new season.

Meanwhile, another outstanding young Kiwi faces the prospect of a year away from the basketball court.

Isaac Fotu, who starred for the Tall Blacks during their World Cup campaign in Spain, has been ruled ineligible for the 2014-15 American college season.

University of Hawaii acting coach Benjy Taylor told a press conference that Fotu is believed to have received improper benefits for a student-athlete. The NCAA, which runs collegiate sports in the United States, prevents players from reaping any reward, financial or otherwise, for their performances.

Taylor said the nature of Fotu's infringement was yet to be determined but team would petition for the power forward's reinstatement.

"That's for the investigation - as of now, he's ineligible," Taylor said. "All I know is we're doing a reinstatement process with him, which, that happens all the time."