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Reinforcing the point

Damian Martin might be the most irreplaceable player in the NBL with Jarrod Kenny a close second. But now the Perth Wildcats are without both point guards and the search is on for reinforcements ahead of Friday night. Kenny arrived at the Wildcats last season with the New Zealander gaining his first taste of the NBL. He had to step up when Martin suffered a broken jaw early in the season and did well, and ended up being an important part of the championship that Martin was captain and Grand Final MVP of. The pair have proven pivotal in the Cats start to this season where they have won three of four matches with Martin and Kenny proving equally effective as a duo setting up the offence and being disruptive on defence. While the Wildcats went on to beat Melbourne United at Hisense Arena by three points on Sunday, Kenny injured a groin early on and took no further part. Then Martin suffered a second fracture jaw inside 12 months when he ran into a screen from Majok Majok. He played on and was perhaps the biggest reason Perth won the game, but will now miss at least the next couple of weeks while Kenny could miss up to a month with his groin injury. The Wildcats had former championship winning development player Joel Wagner along with Jackson Hussey who graduated from Pikeville College earlier this year join in practice on Tuesday with an eye to being potential fill-ins for the coming weeks. Both are Perth locals having played in the recent SBL season with the Perth Redbacks and Geraldton Buccaneers respectively, but coach Trevor Gleeson said the Wildcats will be looking far and wide to try to stay afloat without their two point guards. "We have to find someone who can help short-term that can benefit us through this period of time," Gleeson said. "We are fortunate to have Corban Wroe who played some minutes last year when Damo was out with the initial broken jaw. Andre (Ingram) is also a very good ball handler and hopefully we'll add someone else to the roster in the next day or so. "We looked to our state league first but now we'll cast our net Australia wide to find out who's out there, and if they are in shape and ready to go. We have some big decisions to make in the next 48 hours." Speaking of Ingram, he has now had as many practices with the team as he has played games having hit five threes in the wins over Illawarra and Melbourne on the weekend after arriving on Wednesday. Now he knows he might need to step up more. "It will probably mean a little bit more ball-handling for myself but really with the way we try to play, we just get it and keep going," Ingram said. "Everyone is going to have to step up a little bit, you can't replace Damian and JK. You just have to configure your role a little bit better and try to help out where you can." Greg Hire is still coming off the high of the birth of his first child on Saturday that caused him to miss Sunday's game in Melbourne, but he is ready and able to step up to do whatever's required in the absence of Kenny and Martin. "Damo's the guy who is irreplaceable but then Jarrod Kenny is as close to that as you can get, he's had a tremendous start to the season by pushing the tempo on the offensive end and he's no slouch on the defensive end either," Hire said. "It's an opportunity for a guy like Corban Wroe to show that he's a player in the NBL and there's no doubt in my mind that he is worthy of that spot. But everyone might have to shift down a spot. "Andre and Casey might have to play a little bit of point, and myself and others might have to handle the ball as well but we are confident of doing that. "We've been playing basketball for a long time and when you have an opportunity like this, sometimes in adversity you really thrive and if you can get a win when you're wounded, it's really appreciated." Wildcats big man Matt Knight also made his return on the weekend for his first two games of the season after a shoulder injury, but he has faith in the team getting by without the two important and experienced guards. "It's obviously tough losing Damo but to lose Jarrod as well who has been playing awesome this year makes it even tougher," Knight said. "Obviously we've got young Corban Wroe who had a fantastic season to step up and the rest of us have to step up too with different roles. They are two big losses to cover but we have to do our best."
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