Feisty Wollongong guard Tyson Demos has embraced his new starting role with the Hawks.
Demos spent time on the sidelines with two separate knee injuries this season and came off the bench in the eight games he played.
But he has been thrust into a starting role after Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle both went down with season-ending knee injuries a fortnight ago against Cairns.
The former Illawarra junior star made his first appearance in the starting five last week against New Zealand, playing a season-high 25 minutes and knocking down 1/2 three-point shots.
He started again two nights later against Townsville, racking up another 25 minutes of court time and scoring nine points on 3/5 three-pointers.
Demos wasn't the only new starter for Wollongong. Also making his maiden appearance in the first five was Adris Deleon.
Demos said he was comfortable shouldering the added responsibility that comes with starting.
"It was pretty disappointing to lose Rhys and Lance but it's given me an opportunity to try and step up," the 24-year-old said.
"I enjoyed playing the extra minutes and I'm going to get more confident as the season goes on.
"It was something different to start the game rather than sitting on the bench, but every week I'll get a bit more confident and hopefully we'll string a few wins together.
"There's not as much pressure on me to go out and try to make something happen straight away because I know I'm going to be playing the minutes, but I guess in another sense there's a little bit more pressure on me to perform and fill the gaps that Rhys and Lance have left.
"I'm not going to go out there and try and score 30 points a game. I'm just going to go out there and play defence and try to get stops, and if I'm open I'll try and knock down some shots like I've been doing in the last couple of games."
The Hawks have narrowly lost the previous two meetings with New Zealand in recent weeks but Tyson said the reigning champions were anything but invincible.
"It's always good to step up and play the best team," he said.
"We've lost by two points and one point and we played them a few times in preseason and beat them. We know their stuff pretty well and we match up well against them."