Hawks prepare for mind game

WOLLONGONG defensive anchor Larry Davidson believes his team will pay a heavy price for even the smallest mental mistake tonight against the New Zealand Breakers.

If the league-leading Breakers aren't causing havoc with their unrelenting defensive pressure, they are crashing the offensive boards or punishing lazy opponents with an avalanche of three-pointers.

It is a tried-and-true formula which yielded back-to-back titles over the past two years and has them on course for a third.

The Hawks aren't expected to win tonight.

But Davidson said they were capable of sneaking under the Breakers' guard if they eliminated mental breakdowns.

"If we can handle that pressure they put on you bringing the ball up the court - which they're very good at - and get into our half-court offence, usually we execute pretty good against them," the 209 centimetre-tall centre said.

"It's mainly rebounding and handling their pressure so we can get into our offence, because they do a good job of not letting you do that.

"Probably the toughest thing is that they don't let up. You can't take a possession off. Some teams will press for half a quarter or a quarter, but they do it for the whole game.

"You can deal with it for three-and-a-half quarters. But if you go two or three minutes where you slip up, they're just on you, and they're real good at turning turnovers into points real quickly with athletes like [Tom] Abercrombie running the floor."

Regardless of tonight's result, Wollongong will still be right in the hunt for a top four finish.

But a loss would leave them needing to win four or five of their final six games to make the finals.

"We still want to finish as strongly as we can," Davidson said.

The Hawks fly back to Australia tomorrow morning to prepare for a Sunday afternoon home game against Townsville.

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