The Canberra Capitals have been dealt major blow heading into the business end of the WNBL season, with captain Kelsey Griffin ruled out for six weeks with injury.
The Capitals confirmed Griffin has suffered a high grade ankle sprain on Thursday, which is expected to keep her on the sidelines for six weeks.
The 32-year-old sustained the injury midway through the fourth quarter of Canberra's loss to Southside on Sunday but continued to play until the final whistle.
The loss of the league's most valuable player would be a cruel blow for the Capitals as they look to bounce back from their first home defeat when they host the Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre on Saturday.
But Canberra coach Paul Goriss has found a silver lining and hopes she'll be back in time to defend their title in the final series.
"Unfortunately for us, she'll be out for six weeks but the good news is if we make it through to the finals then she'll be back in time," Goriss said.
"We've kept her in cotton wool well [this year]. Obviously, it was an unfortunate injury at the time and she continued to play on it in the fourth quarter and it got worse.
"If the injury was going to happen, it's happened at the best time because people can come in, get some court time and get used to playing their roles. Then Kelsey can come back in at the end."
Keely Froling will step into the starting line up at the four spot, while the loss has also given Alex Delaney and Gemma Potter an opportunity for more minutes.
Froling will link up with Australian Opal Marianna Tolo, who she replaced at the beginning of the season when the 30-year-old was out with a foot injury.
"It's seamless bringing Keely back into the starting group," Goriss said.
"She's used to coming in and playing those minutes, she's started in place of the likes of Tolo and playing alongside her.
"It just messes with our rotation in the big spots. We're going to have to be creative with what we do defensively and how we work some schemes off offensively with the other girls in.
"It's a great opportunity for the likes of Alex and Gemma, for them to play some extended minutes. For me, it's a positive leading into the finals because we'll need some of that depth in the three-game series.
"We just need to have more input from those bench girls now they've got to come in and play a few more extended minutes."
The Capitals have also been frustrated by not being able to fill the void with forward Mikaela Ruef, who is waiting to become a permanent resident.
The United States and Australian immigration departments are yet to sign off on her paperwork and the 29-year-old is unable to take the court as an import player.
The club's import spots have already been filled by Canadian star Kia Nurse and French point guard Olivia Epoupa.
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"If anyone from immigration can sign off on that today, that would be good so we can suit her up for Saturday," Goriss jokingly said.
"It's just a wait and see game which can be frustrating for us, but especially for Mikaela who is ready to play in this situation."
The Capitals will be looking to bounce back against Bendigo after suffering their first home defeat in more than 12 months last week.
The Spirit eight on the WNBL ladder with two wins and 10 losses, and are also coming to terms with the loss of American import Becca Tobin.
Benidgo released Tobin from her contract last week due to off-court matters, but Goriss remains wary of Carly Ernst, Tessa Lavey and Shyla Heal.
"The worrying thing about Bendigo is their import is gone so they're probably going to be playing loose because there's less pressure on them to now crack that top four," Goriss said.
"They're always going to play hard with Carly, Tessa and Shyla, they're a really good back core.
"They're still dangerous from a scoring perspective but I think defensively is where we can get the upper-hand. I think we're a better defensive unit and obviously they've struggled with their defense.
We've got to take care of getting the ball into Tolo and making her the focal point."
Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at National Convention Centre, 5pm