leicester rowe washington 568Anthony Rowe is targeting the start of next season for his return after being ruled out for up to six months with a ruptured patellar tendon. 

The Leicester Riders forward described the season-ending injury as ‘feeling like an explosion in his knee’ and has already undergone a successful operation to repair the tear as he begins his recovery.

He said: “I’ve never felt a sensation like it before and I kind of knew straight away that it was a serious one. A thousand thoughts rush through your mind and you expect the worst but hope for the best. But surgery went well and everything was repaired.”

“Realistically, it’s a six-month period out. I’ll be back 100% fit around August and I’d like to be playing in the BBL next year so it fits together with the realistic plan. I just need to be patient, persevere and hope everything falls into place.”

Rowe now faces a two-week wait to see a specialist, at the knee fracture clinic, who will determine whether a half-cast or full-cast is required. Despite already facing a lengthy absence, the injury could have been even more serious and Rowe admits he is fortunate in that regards.

“The patellar tendon was ruptured right in the middle which was better news than it could have been because it’s harder to repair closer to the bone. It’s still pretty painful and I’m not very mobile at the moment but it’s better than yesterday and it’s all about progression.”

The 28 year-old’s injury compounded a tough weekend for the Riders as their title challenge hit a blip with back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and Durham. But, Plymouth-born Rowe is not worried about his side’s current form and doesn’t believe there is any need to panic at this stage.

“We just need to keep doing what we do. We lost by two against one of the best teams in the league and were one shot away from winning the game. Had we won that, I don’t think this negativity would be as magnified.

“(Riders) had a tough loss against Durham at home but Durham shot the lights out and it’s not often you see a team shoot that well from the 3-point line.”

He added: “We’re a weakened squad right now. Andrew Sullivan is a very influential player and it’s always hard to play games without players who play a big role. I’m not really worried about my team right now. We won’t back down are still really dangerous.”

After losing Rowe for the season and missing the invaluable presence of Sullivan in recent games, the Riders finally have some good news on the injury front. The defending champions announced the release of Mike Black on Tuesday, paving the way for the return of Anthony Downing- originally deemed to miss the remainder of the current campaign due to a jaw injury.

The 24 year-old point guard averaged 15.4 points per game as well as 4.8 assists in 15 appearances before fracturing his jaw and Rowe believes Downing’s return will be a huge advantage.

“It would be a fantastic boost,” he said. “The way Ant Downing was playing before, for me, he was one of the best point guards in the league so we’ve definitely missed him at times.”

The two-time BBL Cup winner was averaging 12ppg and 6.7 rebounds himself before his own injury and is understandably gutted to be missing out on the business end of the season with the Riders aiming to defend their Championship and Play-Offs crowns.

Rowe said: “I’m not going to lie, I’m devastated. This is my favourite part of the season and I feel I always play better at this stage. All I can do is comment on what I’ve achieved and I’ve won the 2014 BBL Cup and it was fantastic.”

He added: “It’s not many times you can say you’ve won something per season. You can go seasons after seasons without winning anything and it took me 3-4 years to win something.”

Rowe previously had an operation on his knee in the summer of 2012, shortly before his move from Plymouth to Leicester, and he aims to use that past experience as well as the overwhelming support he’s received as incentive to bounce back.

He said: “I feel mentally motivated. I want to keep playing basketball so I don’t have to battle with any uncertainty. The support has been overwhelmingly unbelievable. I expected it from friends and family but it’s been incredible with people all over the BBL, fans and opponents.

“It feels almost like a mental medicine and knowing people want you to come back is very, very positive. I’ve beaten a knee injury before so I’m going to aim to do the same thing.”

Rowe also had his say on the ‘shock’ decision from UK Sport to withdraw all funding from British Basketball. The British forward expressed his confusion about the latest setback affecting the GB national teams.

He said: “I don’t get it. Maybe I’m biased I don’t know. I just don’t understand why we cannot get funding. Basketball is one of the best participated sports in the country and we’ve shown great potential in our GB performances as well as what we’re producing in this country.”

“It bedazzles me. It’s an exciting sport, people seem to love it here and it continues to grow in popularity. I thought the funding would be a given.”

If you agree with Anthony Rowe, make your opinion known by signing MVP’s petition to restore UK Sport funding for basketball.

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