Deleon shines in victory over Tigers

NBL

Some athletes fade and falter under pressure, others crave those game-on-the-line moments.

Wollongong Hawks import Adris Deleon clearly falls into the latter category.

Deleon added to his growing reputation as the NBL's best player in crunch time with another show-stealing performance in yesterday's 74-66 road victory over the Melbourne Tigers.

Content to create shots for teammates for most of the first three quarters, Deleon scored 11 of Wollongong's final 13 points yesterday.

The Hawks trailed by a point before their 180cm playmaker's running jump-shot in the paint with four minutes to play gave them a lead they never relinquished.

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He finished with 18 points, five assists and five rebounds to underline his red-hot claim for NBL Sixth Man of the Year honours.

"In the first half I was just trying to get people involved, because I knew every time I got into the paint they were going to close [the defence], so I tried to find the shooters," Deleon said.

"I knew if we kept the game close, we're a veteran team and we know how to win those games. We won all the 50-50 balls, we won the effort areas.

"I like the pressure of the fourth quarter. I love doing this, playing the sport I love.

"I just go out there and be myself, and I challenge myself. I'm not scared of the moment."

The league-leading Hawks managed to win without captain Oscar Forman (0/9 field goals) scoring a single point.

Their 7-1 start to the season is one of the best in the club's 33-year existence.

"It was a really hard-fought win," Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.

"They did a good job disrupting us. I was pretty disappointed with a lot of things we did but very pleased with the effort we played with. We just hung in there and found ways to hang about.

"We've got a lot of hard work to, but it's pleasing that we played the way we did and still got away with a win," Deleon said.

"I didn't think we had enough guys turn up and play to the level we need them to play at, but we got the job done, so you have to be pleased with that.

"The thing is we have to be realistic to know there's a lot of hard work to do."

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