Almost no-one gives them a chance, but the Wollongong Hawks are quietly confident of snapping their seven-game losing slide in tonight's road duel with the Adelaide 36ers.
The Hawks arrived in Adelaide yesterday, a few hours after watching teammate Glen Saville tearfully announce his retirement.
Tim Coenraad is expected to fill Saville's spot in the starting five, while recently added import Malcolm Grant could be a surprise starter in the backcourt in place of Tyson Demos.
A knee injury has forced Saville into retirement earlier than he anticipated and fourth-placed Wollongong (8-10) will miss his experience over the final 10 games of the regular season.
But the underachieving 36ers (6-13) have their own issues and the Hawks might fancy their chances if the game is tight in crunch time.
"Our focus is to go out there and roll the sleeves up," coach Gordie McLeod said.
"We've had a solid week of practice, and now we have to go out and face the music with the preparation we've had.
"We'll have to change things tactically and use the different pieces.
"Obviously we're going to need everyone up and playing at their best."
Saville played 18 of his 19 NBL seasons with the Hawks and has left big shoes to fill.
"It's not something that's going to be filled very quickly," McLeod said.
"That responsibility now falls onto other team members.
"Some guys are going to be thrown into the hot seat and their development is going to be accelerated probably quicker than expected," he said.