Plymouth Raiders captain Anthony Rowe to miss first six weeks
MARJON Plymouth Raiders captain Anthony Rowe is set to miss the first six weeks of the new BBL season with a serious knee injury.
The 26-year-old Plymouth product suffered the problem at the end of last season in April, but wanted to keep it out of the public eye.
He had an operation to cure a wear and tear injury and clean out cartilage in his left knee more than four months ago on May 25 at Nuffield Hospital in Plymouth.
The problem is not a ligament tear and career-threatening.
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Best-case scenario is the hugely popular, 6ft 8in power-forward could return in six weeks on Friday, October 19 and only miss Raiders' first five games of the 2012/13 campaign.
Worst-case is Rowe could be out until November 3 and miss nine contests – or longer.
"Two months is a worst-case scenario," said Rowe. "I'm a positive person, so I'm looking at getting back in a month or so.
"But I'm not a doctor, so I'm going to listen to what they tell me and do whatever I can to get back healthy."
Raiders boss Gavin Love said: "It's a huge blow. Anthony is out before we've even started.
"It's not the way you want to start the season, but it is what it is. We move on, see what we can do and maybe bring in a player to cover for him."
British centre Phil Wait, 25 and 7ft, has been training with Raiders on trial this week.
Wait could play in Raiders' opening pre-season friendly against Team USA Select at the Pavilions on Wednesday (7.30pm).
Wait averaged 4.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 16 minutes per game for Monmouth in division one college basketball in the USA last season.
"I'm going to take another week to decide," said Love of Wait. "There are other guys out there.
"But Phil's a big guy and could certainly do a job for us."
The overlap of the knee problem into the new season caps a bittersweet summer for Rowe, who married American fiance Katie in Georgia, USA four weeks ago.
The happy couple met at North Georgia University where Rowe studied in the USA from 2005-09.
"Married life still feels pretty new," said Rowe. "Everything went fantastically on the day. All my family and friends came over. It was great."
Sadly, the happiness in Rowe's personal life is not mirrored in his professional life at present.
However, Rowe is determined not to rush back too quickly and ultimately prolong a frustrating stay on the sidelines.
"I'm not the most patient person, but I know basketball is something I want to play for a long time to come," said Rowe, who averaged 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in Raiders' frontline last season and is entering his fourth year in professional basketball.
"If I rush back it could hurt me for the rest of my career, so I have to take the advice seriously; I have to listen to doctors no matter how badly I want to play."
Rowe added: "I have to be disciplined and do what's best for myself, my team and my future.
"It's only been a week of pre-season and I'm already itching to get back.
"I'm just trying to make the most of the situation and stay positive. I have been making progress, just not quickly enough for me."
Love said of the situation: "No-one's more devastated than Anthony himself."
Aside from close colleagues and friends and family, no-one has known of Rowe's problem until now.
He said: "Unfortunately I picked up an injury at the end of last season, with two or three weeks to go. Anyone who saw me then would've known I wasn't as explosive as I normally am.
"Unfortunately it was something that needed to be operated on. I had to get cartilage repaired in the medial part of my knee.
"I was on crutches for six weeks afterwards and I haven't had enough recovery time to get ready for the start of the season. I'm unable to do pre-season.
"I'm just trying to get back as quickly as possible. That's my mission – getting back on court with my team.
"I'm working with two physios and the doctor who operated on me at Nuffield Hospital. Raiders have been very supportive, so I feel I have a great team behind me.
"I'm working on the bike in the gym and in the pool, and I can run now, which is great, but I have been advised to keep running to a minimum.
"The doctors are still not sure exactly how I did it. With cartilage, most of the time it's wear and tear.
"I don't remember a specific event, but I remember the game where it started giving me the most problems at Milton Keynes (on April 18).
"I just tried to play through it."
Rowe is loved by Raiders fans for his relentless work-ethic and heart-on-the-sleeve passion for his hometown club.
His quality on court last season was also diluted by an debilitating ankle problem in the first half of the campaign.
But the previous season, 2010/11 Rowe was named in the BBL British Team of the Year, voted for exclusively by BBL coaches and was also unanimously crowned The Herald Raiders' Player of the Year 2011 for his inspired form.
Rowe hopes at some stage in 2012/13 he can recapture those highs.
"There is a high success rate to the surgery I had," he said. "It's like an MOT for your knee. They clean it out.
"I'm looking to come back at full strength.
"The doctors were pleased with how the operation went and they're pleased with how the knee's reacting now.
"There are signs if the surgery didn't work, like fluid on the knee or swelling. I have also passed physical tests, which indicate if there are problems.
"The injury itself is not career-ending. Luckily it wasn't ligaments.
"But I'm a high energy player who rebounds the ball, so I need to be at full fitness to play.
"Good things come to those who wait – and I'll be ready.
"Mentally I'm ready to go, so when I am physically ready I'll jump right back in. It's just a waiting game now."