Essex Pirates look set to be short-handed after UK immigration officials rejected work permit applications for two of their American imports – for the second time.

Tim Lewis is still looking for a first Essex win.

Stateside guard Turner King and forward Mike Mokeski have been left stranded across the Atlantic due to red tape, leaving the Southend-based outfit to struggle at the start of the BBL campaign.

Pirates coach Tim Lewis – who has signed Australian swingman Dan Briglia – confirmed that an entirely new application has been submitted for the pair but there is no guarantee of success.

“At this point, we just have no way of knowing what will happen,” said Lewis, whose young side lost by 49 points to Worcester last weekend and is set to be without Myles Hesson for an extended spell after he sustained a suspected fractured ankle.

“He’s in plaster and we’re waiting on a scan on Wednesday,” he confirmed.

27-year-old shooting guard Briglia had previously been playing in his native Australia for both the Knox Raiders and the Frankston Blues. “Daniel is a smart player and he will be solid and steady for us which is what we need,” Lewis added. “He’s also experienced and he will do plenty of good work for us both on and off the court.”

Struggling Thunder, Raiders in switch around

Worthing Thunder have confirmed that Evaldas Zabas has left the club for Plymouth Raiders.

The Lithuanian point guard, who was in his second spell on the south coast, is understood to have requested his release last weekend and will now move to their Devon rivals.

“Having provided an opportunity for Evaldas to play in the BBL again when he was without a club, Evaldas has now expressed a wish that he would like to move on to pastures new,” revealed Thunder chairman Frank Gainsbury.

“It is a shame that so early in the season such a request has been received but there would appear to be little point in holding on to player against his wishes.  We hope that Evaldas is successful with his new club and he will of course always be welcome back in Worthing.”

The Thunder had already signed veteran American Marlin Capers as a replacement and have added Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, who first played for the club last season.

Elsewhere, MVP understands that ex-Essex guard Taner Adu has parted company with Plymouth Raiders after just a handful of games.

The playmaker, who made his England debut this year, only joined the Devon side in the summer following a successful campaign with the Pirates but feel out of favour with coach Gavin Love.

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