Nothing less than a complete four-quarter effort will lift the struggling Wollongong Hawks to a first win since Christmas, coach Gordie McLeod has warned.
The Hawks will complete the second leg of a gruelling road double against the red-hot Crocodiles in Townsville tonight.
Despite missing their entire starting backcourt, the beaten-up Hawks succumbed to league-leading New Zealand by just one point on Thursday night.
While upbeat with the effort of his squad in such trying circumstances, McLeod has opted to take a hardline stance in a bid to resurrect a season which started so brightly.
He has asked his side to maintain their intensity for the entire four quarters in a bid to snap a four-match losing streak.
"Effort wise [it was] great, but near enough is not good enough," McLeod said after the Hawks touched down in Townsville yesterday.
"We've got to find different ways to improve our game both individually and as a team and if we can do that we know we can compete with teams, but if we want to take that next step we've got to play for four quarters.
"That's our issue at the moment - we're not getting those four quarters."
The one-time table-toppers have succumbed to Melbourne and Cairns in overtime since New Year's Eve, while also dropping two games to the benchmark Breakers by a combined three points.
In the absence of guards Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle who both require season-ending knee surgery, flashy import Adris Deleon poured in a season-best 34 points on Thursday night.
But McLeod wants contributions from every player if the Hawks are to reignite their finals push.
"If we want to win games we've got to get more production out of more people," he said.
"We've got to get everyone contributing on the boards.
‘‘We did a better job [Thursday] night, but that was something that really hurt us – especially in the fourth quarter.
‘‘We have to keep doing the hard slog and find a new way to play. That’s going to be a real challenge for us.’’
While Deleon signalled his intention to shoulder the point-scoring load for the Hawks in the interim, opposition defences will continue to apply the blowtorch to his increased ball-carrying responsibilities.
McLeod said Townsville would be no exception.
‘‘We don’t expect other teams while we’ve lost two guards, they’re going to get after us and not let us play in the half court,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘That’s what New Zealand did and we had to fight that hard to make that happen.
‘‘His contribution certainly helped and there were some other guys we got some pretty decent contributions out of as well.’’