Fatigue a factor critical in Tigers clash

BASKETBALL

Tomorrow night's duel between Wollongong and Melbourne at WIN Entertainment Centre looms as a survival of the fittest.

The Hawks arrived back in town yesterday after their 106-101 loss to titleholders New Zealand on Thursday night in Auckland.

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Hawks coach Gordie McLeod scheduled a training session today but it won't be too strenuous.

The Tigers took on the league-leading Perth Wildcats last night in Perth and aren't due in Wollongong until tonight.

It remains to be seen which team lasts longer tomorrow.

"We'll have video and recovery after the Perth game, but we've played Wollongong three times - twice pretty recently - so I don't think there are going to be too many surprises," Tigers coach Chris Anstey said.

"Both teams know each other. The last two times we've played it's come down to the last couple of minutes of the game. It's going to be close again.

"It really is a matter of making sure everyone's locked in and ready to go when the game starts."

Third-placed Melbourne lost their previous games against the Breakers and Sydney before they took on the Wildcats last night.

They have won the three meetings with Wollongong by five, seven and 10 points.

Missing from the Tigers will be Lucas Walker (achilles injury).

"Not having Lucas obviously changes our rotations a little bit, it changes the way we rebound and it changes some of the things we run," Anstey said.

"We just have to make sure we continue to play good basketball, put ourselves in a position to win games, and trust that what we do down the stretch is going to be good enough."

Wollongong led the Breakers by three with three minutes left on Thursday but failed to finish.

"What killed us in the end was we just weren't smart enough," coach Gordie McLeod said.

"We had some big opportunities to put pressure on them and didn't make them pay."

The Hawks play seven of their final 11 games at home.

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