South East Melbourne Phoenix are dealing with a double injury blow to start NBL23, with Ryan Broekhoff (hamstring) and import guard Trey Kell III (ribs) expected to be unavailable on opening night.
Further investigation in recent days revealed the extent of Kell's rib injury, after he reported lingering discomfort following a preseason game against Tasmania JackJumpers earlier this month.
"Trey Kell has a crack in his rib. His return date is going to be roughly around the second or third week of the regular season," head coach Simon Mitchell told ESPN.
"It's disappointing, he was only with us for two training sessions and a game and a bit."
Given the nature of the injury, Kell is not currently running, in an untimely headache as teams get valuable court time at the NBL Blitz in Darwin.
"It means he will fall behind; he needs to get his legs under him and getting that time on the floor with his teammates, so we'll miss that."
The team will continue to take a conservative approach with Broekhoff, who has suffered various injuries in his season and a half with the club.
"Rowdy (Broekhoff) will return around the same time," Mitchell added. "It's not so much an issue for him, he's very in touch with how we operate, where his shots are coming from, the defensive strategies, so he will assimilate pretty quickly.
"It's the second soft tissue of the preseason (for Broekhoff), we just have to make sure we're 100 percent across it when we get him back on the floor."
Despite posting a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double against Perth on Monday night, big man Alan Williams is also carefully progressing, with the Phoenix now facing a challenging stretch to open a season in which they hope to return to the playoffs.
"He's still getting himself into game shape at the moment," Mitchell said. "He had a double-double yesterday, but I still think there's a lot more in regard to seeing him at his best and he'd freely admit that.
"I think we will be a little bit of a work in progress for the first month. We shot out of the gate a little bit last year; we had one of the league's best records until a third of the way through the season and then things started to fade a little bit on us for various reasons.
"Having these things in our way right now, while it's a pain in the butt, we have to look at it from a positive standpoint that we're going to have some fresh legs towards the business end of the season which I think we need."
South East Melbourne open the NBL23 season on October 1, at John Cain Arena against the Tasmania JackJumpers.