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Crowd favourite calls for time out

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Brian Voelkel will depart from Printsync South West Slammers.
Camera IconBrian Voelkel will depart from Printsync South West Slammers. Credit: South Western Times, Mitchell Woodcock

The Printsync South West Slammers and workhorse American import Brian Voelkel have parted ways by mutual consent.

Voelkel, who has battled to recover from a nagging wrist injury incurred against the East Perth Eagles in round five, met with club officials last week and discussed the matter prior to his decision.

The Slammers confirmed the signing of Voelkel’s replacement yesterday – 201cm Oklahoma-born forward Drelan Tripplett – who is expected to participate in team activities tonight.

Slammers men’s coach John Triscari acknowledged it was not an ideal situation for the team, which is 0-10 at the bottom of the men’s SBL ladder.

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“Brian met with us and said he effectively hasn’t had a break in four years from basketball,” he said.

“So he virtually goes from playing in Japan straight down to here.

“He told us that his body is not recovering from the injury that he sustained when a player fell on his wrist – and it looks like he has damaged a tendon.

“Compared to what he gets here, it is nothing compared to what he can earn in Japan, so obviously he is keen to get his body right for next season in Japan.

“It’s unfortunate, but we need to move on.”

Voelkel quickly became a fan favourite of Slammernation, with his work rate and enthusiasm admired by coaches and players throughout the SBL.

Prior to his injury in round five, the American averaged 10.2 points, 11 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game – with a reputable 62 per cent shooting percentage from the field.

Tripplett, who joins the Slammers from the Lithgow Lazers in Basketball NSW’s Waratah League, came highly recommended to the club following consultations with Perry Lakes Hawks men’s championship winning coach Matt Parsons.

“He’s 201cm and a bit of a scorer,” Triscari said.

“He is also very athletic and has an outstanding vertical leap, which means he can get way up above the rim.

“To find a replacement at short notice isn’t easy and it is a bit of a risk.”

In his discussions with the forward, Triscari has offered him the incentive of a long-term future at the club if he is able to perform consistently.

“He is extremely keen to be here and is looking at this as a long-term thing,” he said.

“If he fits in with the team’s ethos and things work out, we will have a look at next year.”

The timing of Tripplett’s arrival couldn’t be better, with the Slammers due to face the red-hot Warwick Senators on Saturday night at the Eaton Recreation Centre.

Following Saturday’s masterful 100-91 display against title favourites Joondalup Wolves, the Senators will be out to extend the home side’s losing home record – with their last home victory on July 28 last year against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.

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