Cyclone Dylan sets sights on 'Swamp'

BASKETBALL

Wild weather threatens to prevent the Wollongong Hawks from taking on the Townsville Crocodiles tonight in north Queensland.

An emergency alert was issued for Townsville residents as Cyclone Dylan bore down yesterday.

The alert was issued by the Townsville Local Disaster Management Group, advising of a "Red Zone" storm tide warning.

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"Residents are advised to prepare for inundation of properties and businesses located in this zone," the alert said.

Forecasters expect the intense low pressure system to cross the coast and make landfall this morning between Tully, south of Cairns, and Townsville.

The Hawks touched down in Townsville yesterday afternoon and are scheduled to meet the Crocs tonight in round 16 at " The Swamp" - the Townsville Entertainment Centre.

But there is a chance the match may not go ahead.

If the weather is too severe, the game could be postponed until tomorrow night.

"At this point we're heading to Townsville with the intention of playing on Friday night or maybe even Saturday night, depending on what happens," Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said shortly before the team left Wollongong.

"Those things could possibly change. We'll just have to wait and see how that unfolds."

Both teams desperately need a win.

Seventh-placed Wollongong (6-12) have lost three straight, while the last-placed Crocs (4-13) have lost eight in a row.

"It's very grey and ugly right now and we're going to get hit by a lot of rain and wind. It'll be pouring," Townsville coach Shawn Dennis said at midday yesterday.

"People are very cautious here and they've bought all the milk and water in the supermarket. All the plans are in place if there is any emergency.

"We're still preparing for the game to go ahead."

The Hawks are hoping team scoring leader Rotnei Clarke (20.8 average) breaks out of a mini-slump.

Clarke has made just four of his past 20 shots from three-point range, but he is still the player Dennis fears most among the Hawks.

"The guy that really scares me is Clarke. If he gets rolling he can start making 30-foot jump-shots," he said.

"He's still the key to the Hawks. He scares the hell out of me because he has the ability to go off for 50, and there's nothing you can do.

"Given the way we've defended the three-point line since Christmas, if he gets going we're in trouble."

Despite the run of losses, the Crocs haven't thrown in the towel.

"Morale is fantastic," Dennis said. "The guys are turning up and working their butts off."

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