Hawks bruised and beat but not defeated

BASKETBALL

History will show it was just another losing weekend, but the Wollongong Hawks aren't making excuses and they don't need sympathy.

Despite going down for the sixth straight time with Saturday's 82-74 loss to Townsville, the injury-plagued Hawks kept hold of fourth spot.

Most NBL followers have written off Wollongong's top-four prospects, but 19-season veteran Glen Saville insists "it's not all gloom and doom".

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"Being written off is something we're probably used to over the years, although we normally get told that at the start of the season," Saville said.

"Winning one from our last nine and to still be hanging on to fourth spot, we'll take it. There's some teams below us playing better basketball at the moment and that's going to make things a little difficult for us, but there's a big chunk of the season to go.

"We're certainly not about to throw the towel in or pack up and go home."

It has been a case of close but no cigar for the Hawks over the past month.

Injuries have been a major problem, but Saville believes there is no point making excuses.

"We've got three or four guys just coming back from injury and we've just lost our starting guards, so there's been a lot to deal with, which has probably unsettled us along the way.

"I have never, ever seen anyone have to deal with their starting guards both blowing their knee out in one game, which happened to us, but everyone has to deal with injuries.

"We still had our chances on Thursday against the best team [New Zealand] in the competition, so we can't really use injuries as an excuse.

"We were right there. We put ourselves in a position to win, but we still couldn't win a close one.

"In our last five games, we've lost two to New Zealand by a combined three points and three games in overtime, but at the end of the day it's all about winning close games and being able to get over the line.

"We haven't come up with the big plays down the stretch, and that's probably our biggest issue at this stage, defensively and offensively."

Saville said new import Malcolm Grant will help immediately.

"Hopefully, we can get him to fit in quite quickly, and we've got a group of guys and a system that can cater for that," the 37-year-old forward said.

"He's a combo guard who's going to be able to shoot the ball as well as handle the ball, which is what we need."

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