Mersey Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto will have to do without GB captain Drew Sullivan when his side bids to get past Cheshire Jets in the BBL play-off semi-finals this weekend.

And he is also sweating over the availability of Perry Lawson, who has missed much of the final part of the season with a shoulder injury.

Garbelotto said: "I go backwards and forwards on the chances (of Perry playing). Perry is physically able to play in that he's able to cut, move and do all of the things but he's not able to make any contact.

"If someone bashes into him and hits his shoulder in the wrong place, then he could be out for an even longer period of time, so I'm leaving it in the hands of the medical staff.

"If they say he can play, then that would be massive. Even if we got 10 minutes out of him it would be huge. It would give me a rotation of a player, and that's what we need."

Sullivan is unlikely to have recovered from an ankle injury in time for the semi-final, despite showing good progress during treatment.

The treble-chasing Tigers, looking to add to their BBL Championship and BBL Trophy successes from earlier in the season, saw off Leicester Riders with just six fit players last weekend to set up a last four clash with local rivals Cheshire Jets.

The Tigers coach said: "Our guys are on their last legs. I don't know what else to say.

"We've got Jamaal (Williams) who isn't like a Drew Sullivan who can run up and down the court for 40 minutes, but he's played something like 78 minutes over the two games. James Jones and Nate (Reinking) almost went the whole game.

"I told the guys that their heart and desire is unsurpassed. They showed so much heart – the heart of a champion really."

Garbelotto was also full of praise for the Riders and his opposite number Rob Paternostro after Leicester nearly upset the seedings.

He added: "I know Rob really well, he's a passionate guy, and his team was unbelievable. They kept coming back and building momentum. They gave us a cushion and then they still didn't quit.

"They've had a really strong season, they've been way better than their ranking shows but they've had a lot of problems to deal with. I take my hat off to how Rob prepared his team because they came to win."


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