Wollongong captain Oscar Forman believes bruising forward Dave Gruber should become a permanent focal point in the Hawks’ offence.
The underrated Gruber has started at the centre position for the past 11 games, taking over after Larry Davidson missed four games with an ankle injury.
In that 11-game span he has averaged 8.2 points on 54 per cent shooting and 5.9 rebounds.
Gruber was highly effective in the paint against Cairns on Sunday, tallying 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
But the Hawks were too trigger-happy from the three-point line (4/21) and didn’t get Gruber the ball as often as they should have.
The Taipans were able to overturn a 16-point half-time deficit and won 79-77 on import Demetri McCamey’s clutch buzzer beater.
The Hawks have one training session to regroup for Thursday’s meeting with the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland.
They fly back to Sydney on Friday to prepare for a Sunday night home game against Melbourne.
Forman said Gruber can be a key factor in Wollongong’s bid for a finals berth.
‘‘We were settling for individual shots and perimeter stuff in the second half against Cairns, rather than going inside,’’ he said.
‘‘We isolated Dave Gruber and had him going to work inside and Timmy [Coenraad] threw him some great passes.
‘‘That had been helping us keep the scoreboard ticking over but we kind of went away from it.
‘‘Grubes has been playing really well and we need to remember how important he is to our offence. It needs to be a focus of ours for the rest of the season.’’
The Breakers are one spot behind the Hawks in seventh and coming off a mauling from Perth.
‘‘They got smacked over in Perth, so they’ll be re-evaluating,’’ Forman said.
‘‘We’ve got a quick evaluation and we need to have a good training on Tuesday before flying out to New Zealand to play the defending champs.’’