Wollongong captain Oscar Forman has challenged his Hawks teammates to make up for being "lazy" and "embarrassing" against Townsville in the biggest NSW National Basketball League derby in years on Friday.
The Hawks need to overcome arch-rivals Sydney Kings and then Adelaide to fend off their desperate playoff rivals and guarantee a top four place.
After watching the video analysis of their 69-64 loss to the Crocodiles in the tropical north, Forman demanded the team shed its "Jekyll and Hyde" personalities and adopt a more physical and determined approach.
"It's frustrating," he said.
"We've been a little Jekyll and Hyde lately - in Melbourne we play a great game, then we go up to Townsville and have no effort.
"It's been a thing where [coach] Gordie [McLeod] shows how lazy we have been in certain games, then we come out for the next training session and the next game and we've been fantastic."
Forman highlighted the Hawks defensive frailties against Townsville that allowed Gary Ervin - former NBL most valuable player while with the Hawks - and Luke Nevill to take control.
"Offensively we made some bad shots and failed to execute a little bit and they just rammed the ball down our throat," Forman said.
"It just absolutely killed us, our defence was completely off our game plan.
"Our plan is to make someone else score, not those two guys, and those guys [Ervin and Nevill] did all the scoring.
"It's inexcusable from us, it was embarrassing, flat out embarrassing. If we come out like that we'll get whacked."
Forman said Friday's derby in Wollongong was much bigger than recent contests against the Kings.
Sydney hold a 2-1 advantage in the series split, but also, crucially, a head-to-head points differential of plus 18.
"Absolutely, a couple of the others at the end of the season have been purely a pride battle," he added.
"It means a lot this one, it's just going to be a brutal game. We need to first win, and second win by a big margin."