Xavier Cooks is set to miss the Sydney Kings' clash with rivals Illawarra Hawks this Sunday as the MVP candidate recovers from the ankle injury he suffered before the FIBA break.
Cooks limped off before half-time of the Kings' most recent game against the New Zealand Breakers, taking no further part in the game and leaving the stadium in a moon boot.
The 27-year-old was subsequently ruled out of Australia's latest World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan but participated in Kings training on Friday morning.
The Kings are likely to take a conservative approach to Cooks' fitness, given how crucial he will be on the charge to back-to-back titles, with the forward no guarantee of lining up against the resurgent Cairns Taipans on November 28.
"He's been attacking his rehab really well," said Kings import Justin Simon, a good mate of Cooks'.
"Other than that, he's been leading with his voice, still talking to us. He's still with us."
Guard Angus Glover said Cooks would leave a hole while he recovered from his injury.
"He's just that good. He goes close to getting triple doubles for us," he said.
"He does it all for us. I can't wait to have him back."
As they prepared to return to Qudos Bank Arena, Simon predicted the side's biggest threat to title defence would be themselves.
Chase Buford's Kings are a game clear atop the ladder, have stretched their road winning streak to 17 games and silenced speculation their new import trio could struggle to live up to their championship-winning predecessors.
But with one eye on their second-half fade in their last start, the Kings are still hunting a four-quarter performance, says Simon.
"We're our biggest threat, when we're in our own way," he said.
"I like to think what we have now is, it's the Kings vs the Kings, not Cairns vs the Kings, not 36ers vs the Kings.
"If we don't get complacent, if we continue to hold each other accountable, continue to build synergy, talk to each other, watch film ... we've got to encourage each other and keep moving forward."