Any doubts about the Wollongong Hawks' resilience have surely been silenced after Saturday night's 88-82 triumph over Melbourne.
Less than a week after losing a one-point heartbreaker to Adelaide in overtime, the Hawks defiantly thumbed their noses at the doubters who said they had run their race.
Wollongong leapfrogged Melbourne into third spot and will take renewed confidence into the final three games of the season against Townsville (away), Sydney (home) and Adelaide (home).
Guard Adris Deleon stole the show against the Tigers with a superb all-round display, which should snare him his second National Basketball League player of the week award.
Playing all but one minute of the entire game, Deleon showed why he is nicknamed "2hard2guard" on the New York playgrounds, racking up 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and just a single turnover.
Centre Larry Davidson had his best offensive game of the season with 23 points on 9/11 shooting, while forwards Dave Gruber, Tim Coenraad and Oscar Forman chipped in eight points apiece.
"Adris was really up for that challenge. He was in that zone shooting the ball," Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said before yesterday's flight back to Sydney.
"It was good to see Larry come out and have a good one because he's worked so hard on a day-to-day basis, so it was good to see the confidence.
"The shot was dropping and he was posting up well."
Guards Tyson Demos and Malcolm Grant also had a big say in the win, tallying a collective seven points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
"Each team made runs at different times, and we were able to do enough," McLeod said.
"Our defence stood up when we needed it to stand up. We got good contributions from everyone.
"It might not necessarily show on the stats, but guys made big defensive plays for us at different times.
"When we put the sum of all the contributions together, we had enough to get over the line."
Wollongong were tied at 23-all with the Tigers after the first quarter but offered little defensive resistance in the second period to trail 47-41 at half-time.
Davidson got the Hawks going in the third quarter with some early baskets, while Deleon, Coenraad and Demos followed suit.
The Tigers suffered a blow when American guard Jonny Flynn went down with an injured ankle.
Tigers forward Lucas Walker was whistled for an unsportsmanlike seconds later, while Flynn was slapped with a technical for verbally spraying a referee as he limped from the court.
Deleon made all four of the ensuing free throws to give the Hawks a 62-59 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the period.
Wollongong were up 70-61 at three-quarter time but the home side scored nine unanswered points to start the final period.
Deleon then landed his fifth three-pointer and the Hawks never looked back.
The Hawks squared their regular season series with the Tigers at two games apiece, though Melbourne clinched the series by a point when victory margins of each game are added together.
‘‘We just hung in there,’’ McLeod said of his side’s 11th win of the season.
‘‘It’s a tough league to get wins in and we really fought hard to stay in the contest.
‘‘We had a really good second half defensively.’’