DJ fit to face Cairns

The Weekend Post - - Sport - GIL­BERT GAR­DINER

MEL­BOURNE United star DJ Kennedy has been cleared to face the Cairns Taipans on Sun­day af­ter­noon in Far North Queens­land, hav­ing over­come a bout of con­cus­sion fol­low­ing a “mi­nor” car ac­ci­dent last week.

The male driver, who al­legedly col­lided with Kennedy, had pre­vi­ously been di­ag­nosed with a sleep­ing dis­or­der and al­legedly dozed off be­hind the wheel.

Kennedy with­drew from United’s team be­fore last Sun­day’s loss to Bris­bane after fail­ing the NBL’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col. The ath­letic wing was rat­tled last Fri­day af­ter­noon driv­ing close to the team’s Al­bert Park base when the car he was driv­ing was struck from be­hind, and then shunted into the ve­hi­cle in front, ap­proach­ing a set of traf­fic lights.

The Pitts­burgh na­tive, who ex­pe­ri­enced “stiff­ness” in the neck and back from be­ing jolted in the bin­gle, prac­tised dur­ing the week and looks set to travel to Cairns for the must­win game.

Kennedy has been a revel- ation since see­ing off in­jury set­backs at the start of the sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 12.4 points, 6.1 re­bounds, 2.6 as­sists and 1.3 steals from 16 games.

United has dropped four of the past six matches and slipped to third in the stand­ings, one win be­hind Syd­ney and Perth, fol­low­ing back-to­back losses to Bris­bane and Ade­laide.

Kennedy’s re­turn will take the pres­sure off play­mak­ers Casper Ware, Chris Gould­ing, Mitch McCar­ron and David Bar­low at both ends of the floor. Ware pun­ished the last­placed Snakes twice pre­vi­ously this sea­son, with game-high 32 and 34-point hauls.

The 32-point ef­fort in United’s Round 4 win in Cairns in­cluded 8-from-12 three point­ers and a sea­son league­high 16 points in the last quar­ter alone.

Mel­bourne cap­tain and cham­pi­onship-win­ner Gould­ing – a 271-game NBL vet­eran – is set to be­come the first to play 100 games for United.

Could the Snakes claim a vic­tory in Perth last night? www.cairn­spost.com.au

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