Deleon in doubt for Taipans showdown

Crunch time hero Adris Deleon is no certainty to line up with the Wollongong Hawks for tomorrow's road meeting with the Cairns Taipans.

Deleon is battling an abdominal strain which kept him out of Thursday's practice session.

He trained yesterday and is expected to make today's trip to north Queensland.

But the man who has made a habit of rising to the occasion in the fourth quarter for league-leading Wollongong couldn't guarantee he would take on the Taipans.

He said coach Gordie McLeod held the final say.

"If I'm travelling, I'm playing, but it's Gordie's call," Deleon said. "Hopefully I'm playing. It depends how it's going to be.

"I don't know what Gordie's decision is. I think he's going to take me [to Cairns], but I'm just going to see how it's going to be. If I feel really good on Sunday I'm ready to go."

Deleon said the injury was a mystery.

"I really don't know what's going on," he said. "I was doing some abs, doing side to side, and I think I did too much. I had a scan and nothing showed up, but the doctor said I should rest.

"I wanted to practise and didn't want to push it, but then I found out 'if you don't practise today, you don't travel', so I did all right. I took a couple of pills the doctor gave me and I was feeling good out there."

Deleon has been a huge hit in his first campaign with the Hawks (7-1).

The 180cm guard is second in the NBL in scoring with 17 points per game, first in free-throw accuracy (88 per cent) and third in steals (1.5). He is making 44 per cent of his field goals and is also averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Best of all, the Hawks might boast the league's best fourth-quarter player.

"The funny thing is, when we need a bucket down the stretch, it's not even me that calls it," he said.

"The guys in the team are like 'Adris, try to get your shot, try to make the right play', so I go out there and try to score or try to create for somebody else.

"It's not even me thinking I'm going to take over the game, it's them putting me in that situation.

"I want the ball all the time, but when you see the team putting you in that situation so you can get a shot or create something for them, that makes me more comfortable and confident that I can just go out there and play my game, knowing the coach and team have my back."

The Taipans have won just three of nine games and been unusually poor on their home court this season.

"They're under a little pressure, especially because they lost a couple at home," Deleon said.

"They've got a pretty good squad and good coaches, but they haven't figured out their situation.

"I know they're going to try and figure it out and we don't want to be that team that isn't ready for that.

"We just have to be ourselves, stay with the game plan and do the things that got us to 7-1. We know it's going to be a dogfight."

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