Energy, rebounding need work before NZ

BASKETBALL 

Picking up the pieces before the arrival of competition leaders New Zealand on Saturday, Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod believes the Hawks committed the cardinal sin of being outworked by their opponents in the overtime loss to Melbourne.

The Hawks were well below their best in the 80-72 home defeat to the Tigers, making just 24 of their 65 field goal attempts (37 per cent).

But McLeod has been around long enough to know that some nights the shots just don't drop.

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He was more concerned with his side's shortage of enthusiasm and energy during stretches of the clash.

"This was a game where we really had to do a job in the effort areas with regards to the boards, second-chance points and points in the paint," the 2009-10 NBL coach of the year said.

"We did a pretty good job of that in the first half, but that completely changed after half-time. They wore us down and we weren't able to execute down the stretch.

" In the end you have to make plays to win games - and they made some big buckets.

"They're a tough team - a big, strong, physical team. They relentlessly worked on the boards and they wore us down in the end with inside and outside [offence]."

Third-placed Wollongong (8-5), after winning their first six games, have lost four of their last five.

Injuries have played a part in their recent slump, but rebounding has become the Hawks' obvious Achilles heel.

In their past six games, they have been out-rebounded by a massive 244-166.

If they don't crash the boards with more hunger in Saturday's home game against two-time reigning champions New Zealand, the Wollongong Hawks might be in danger of being blown away in their own building.

"There's a couple of guys down and we just have to find a way we can compete and get over the line," McLeod said.

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