After two days in sick bay, Andrea Bargnani will be in the lineup Wednesday night for the Toronto Raptors in their National Basketball Association season opener against the Indiana Pacers at Rogers Centre.
"He's going to play, Andrea's going to play," Toronto coach Duane Casey said after the Raptors had a team shoot-around Wednesday morning in advance of the game. He's feeling better today. He's got his fluids in him so he's ready to go."
The 7-foot forward had missed the previous two days of practice with his teammates after coming down with flu-like symptoms.
Although Bargnani didn't feel like speaking with reporters Wednesday morning, Casey said he will be ready to go against the Pacers.
His presence at the power forward position will provide Toronto with pair of seven-footers along the front line with rookie Jonas Valanciunas also making his NBA debut for the Raptors at centre.
"My first regular season game so I'm a little bit nervous," the 20-year-old Lithuanian said.
Asked how well he slept last night, Valanciunas was honest. "That was not so good," he said.
It will be a tough start no doubt for Valanciunas, having to go against Roy Hibbert, the 7-foot-2 Indiana centre and one of the most offensively gifted big men in the NBA.
And with Indiana forward Danny Granger out indefinitely with a knee injury, much of the Pacers offence is expected to run through Hibbert, especially with him coming up against a raw rookie such as Valanciunas.
"I don't know if it's ever good to face somebody like that, but it's a good match-up for him [Valanciunas]," Casey said. "This year's a year of growing for him and he's going to face a different animal each night, different type of player, a monster in the paint.
"A guy like Hibbert is a very accomplished scorer in the paint, big, strong. So it's a good test for him, a good learning experience for him."
Casey said he expects that his rookie centre will also be battling nerves for his first NBA start.
"The key is to simplify it for him," Casey said. "Give him two simple things to execute defensively, two simple things to execute offensively. Keep it simple because the worst thing you can do is be uptight and nervous and then have paralysis by analysis, over-thinking things."
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