Breakers welcome back French star Rayan Rupert and Tall Black … – i.stuff.co.nz

Breakers coach Mody Maor is upbeat about the return from injury of teenage French star Rayan Rupert and Tall Black Rob Loe for Wednesday’s ABL clash in New Plymouth.
Getting the duo back is a timely boost for the second-placed Breakers as they face nine games in the next month – beginning with four in the next nine days.
Rupert, 18, has been sidelined since injuring his left wrist in mid-November, but he has been cleared to play against the fifth-ranked Perth Wildcats.
Loe is also fit again after managing a back problem.
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The pair’s return will bolster the Breakers, who won 11 of their first 14 games, but lost three on the bounce in the leadup to Christmas.
Rupert, a 1.99m point guard, and Loe are both looking to give their teammates an uplift.
“I am very happy to play again with my teammates,’’ Rupert said. “Basketball is my life so to not play basketball is very hard.
“I didn’t play for one month or two months, a very long time. I am happy to get back.’’
Rupert, a Next Star tipped for a NBA career, has been strengthening his wrist with the Breakers’ conditioners and testing it at practice.
“I think I am a better player [after the work],’’ he said. “I am working very hard physically on my left hand.’’
Maor said Rupert had been showing encouraging signs at practice, but the next step was to test his hand in a competitive game.
“It’s a big challenge for a kid, and I’m sure Rayan’s up to it,’’ he said.
“I very much hope Rayan comes back a better player, but w are not putting that kind of pressure on him.
“He needs to come back and play his role [which] means to defend, compete, play extra hard, and if there’s any mistakes that come from rust or sitting on the sideline for some time, then that’s OK too.’’
Maor is also delighted to have Loe, a 2.11m centre or power forward, in the mix.
“Getting Robbie back is huge for us,’’ he said. “In my opinion, Robbie is playing the best basketball of his career.
Maor said Loe, 31, provided a lot of experience and emotional intelligence to a young Breakers team and was “a leader from that standpoint’’, and made “the right reads in our offence’’ and “acts as a connector’’ between defence and attack.
He said Loe had a back injury “and back injuries can be tricky’’, but “he’s been practising for a week’’ and was now ready to return. “Hopefully, it will be the last we hear of this injury.’’
Loe expects the problem is “something that I will have to manage for the rest of the season’’, but he expected “some time off in the off-season is probably all it needs’’ to come right.
Watching from the sidelines has been tough, with Loe saying he had approached this season “with a new lease of life and the positivity of being home’’ after the Breakers had to complete their entire campaign in Australia last season due to Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
The Breakers will, however, be spending a chunk of time on the road in the next four weeks.
After Wednesday’s Perth clash at New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium, they travel to Adelaide for a match-up with the 36ers on Sunday.
Then it’s back to Christchurch for a January 12 duel with Melbourne United before heading home to Auckland’s Spark Arena to host the Cairns Taipans on January 15.
Another trip across the Tasman then beckons for a date with the Sydney Kings on January 22 before meeting the Bullets in Brisbane four days later.
The Breakers will welcome Melbourne United to the Spark Arena on January 28 before crossing the ditch again to face Illawarra’s Hawks in Wollongong on February 2 and the Bullets again in Brisbane on January 4.
Loe, an old hand at hoops travel since striking out for Saint Louis University in 2010, said it would be challenge to “do the right things off the court’’, including rest, recovery and nutrition, but “nine games isn’t daunting … playing basketball is fun”.
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