Gordie coy over Wollongong's lucky win

Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod was quick to play down the Hawks' 73-59 comeback victory over Cairns on Saturday night at WIN Entertainment Centre.

The Hawks led 17-12 after the first quarter but fell behind by four at half-time and trailed by 16 in the third period.

Sparked by captain Oscar Forman's hot three-point shooting and guard Adris Deleon's dazzling display in crunch time, Wollongong dominated the Taipans in the final quarter to chalk up their sixth win from seven games.

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While McLeod praised his team, he felt luck was on their side.

"I really think it's a game where we dodged a bullet," the 2009-10 NBL Coach of the Year said.

"We were too much about trying to put them to sleep instead of having a good two-tempo about what we did.

"The guys did a good job of turning it around, because Cairns really had us off the bit. The guys just dug deep, and when we gave the fans something to cheer about they really got into it, and that helped the whole process as well.

"It was a good effort, but we can count ourselves a little bit lucky."

Just how lucky they were is open to debate, but the Hawks certainly displayed far more resolve and much clearer focus than their opponents down the stretch.

After taking a 47-31 lead on Cam Tragardh's shot midway through the third period, Cairns capitulated, scoring just 12 points over the final 15 minutes.

"All year the team has done a great job defensively. It was a great team effort," McLeod said.

"When we were down we just changed our tactics a bit and we asked the guys to dig deep. We asked them to get up the floor and try to disrupt it as much as possible.

"We did a lot of things well in that last quarter-and-a-half. Our defence was disruptive, we rebounded very well. We got great contributions off the bench, a lot of energy and effort."

McLeod, NBL Coach of the Month for October, pulled a masterstroke in using his penultimate time-out with more than four minutes left in the third quarter.

It was a gamble, but the Hawks turned the game around so emphatically that he didn't even have to call his final time-out.

"If we don't change things around at that period in time, the guys don't have enough time to get back," McLeod said.

"Cairns were in control and we were struggling a bit. The effort was there but we didn't play smart enough. In the last quarter-and-a-half the effort was good and we got a lot smarter with what we did.

"We got a good balance in the second half of getting some stuff around the paint and getting some penetration. That got our shooters involved on the perimeter. We had the right guy shooting the ball at the right time.

"All credit to what the guys were able to achieve. If you're going to keep a team to seven points in the last quarter you're going to give yourself a pretty good chance to win the game."

The second-placed Hawks meet the Tigers in Melbourne next Sunday.

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