If there was a silver lining in Wollongong’s round 15 losses to New Zealand and Townsville it was Adris Deleon’s timely return to form.
Deleon missed a chance to send the Hawks’ game against the Breakers into overtime when he misfired on the second of two free throws with three seconds remaining.
But the visitors would never have come close to winning if it wasn’t for Deleon’s game-high 34 points.
Elevated into the starting five for the first time after season-ending knee injuries to Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle, Deleon hit 13/24 shots and tallied six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
He wasn’t as hot two nights later in Townsville, scoring 13 points on 5/15 shooting, but he still racked up eight rebounds and seven assists.
And while Deleon averaged 4.5 turnovers for both games, it should be noted that he played 75 of a possible 80 minutes.
‘‘We took New Zealand down to the wire again and a lot of that was on the back of Adris’s performance of getting 34 points, but the rest of the team can bring a lot more,’’ Hawks captain Oscar Forman said.
Back-up centre Auryn MacMillan was one of Wollongong’s best performers against the Breakers, scoring 11 points off the bench.
‘‘Auryn had a blinder of a game,’’ Forman said.
Forman averaged 13.5 points and 3.4 rebounds over the weekend, but the Hawks were out-rebounded 40-32 by the Breakers and 32-27 by the Crocodiles.
‘‘We go into games with our game plan and we go away from it and have some brain explosions at times,’’ Forman said.
‘‘We go away from our principles and that really comes back to bite us on the arse. We need to play games for the full four quarters.’’
The Hawks (8-9) are desperate to snap a six-game losing streak when they host the Breakers on Australia Day.
New Zealand have won the previous two meetings by a combined three points.
‘‘We think we match up well with them and we have a good game plan against them,’’ Forman said.
‘‘They’re going to change a lot of things coming into this game because of the way we defended them last time, but we’ll make our own changes and adjustments.
‘‘We’ve lost two close games against them so we think we’re right there and they know we’re right there.’’