Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has insisted that he feels '100 per cent' ahead of Tuesday's keenly-anticipated season opener against the Miami Heat.
28-year-old Noah, a former Florida Gator who joined the Bulls after being selected with the ninth overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft, has been struggling badly with a groin injury that restricted his ability to take part during pre-season.
However, after completing practice on Sunday, New York-native Noah - who is a pivotal figure for the franchise - is absolutely sure that he will be available to feature at American Airlines Arena as Tom Thibodeau's charges face the reigning champions.
"I'll be fine," he was quoted by the Chicago Tribune.
"I'm not worried about it. I've been working on my conditioning the whole time. Even with the groin, it was more of a lateral problem, a jumping problem, more than just running straightforward. So I was doing a lot of running the whole time.
"I feel 100 percent. I have no problems in my groin. I wanted to play in that last preseason game, but Thibs said no. I was p***d about it, but I think it was the right decision."
LeBron James and the Heat, who have managed to win back-to-back championships under Erik Spoelstra, provide a daunting opening test for the Bulls as the 2013/14 campaign gets underway and Noah is in no doubt as to the importance of the match-up.
"Every time you play against Miami, it's always a statement," Noah said. "We're a hungry group. It's one of 82, but we know that every time you play against Miami it's important," he added.