Hawks have steep mountain to climb 

BASKETBALL

The Wollongong Hawks' moment of truth has arrived.

Four straight losses have left the Hawks fighting a steep, uphill battle to snatch a finals berth.

Starting with tomorrow's home clash with second-placed Adelaide (13-6), Wollongong (6-13) need to win seven or eight of their remaining nine games to finish in the top four.

Despite his team's predicament, coach Gordie McLeod is never one to look past the next game.

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Wollongong have played Adelaide twice on the road, losing by six points and one point.

McLeod said they couldn't fall into the trap of trying to beat the high-octane 36ers at their own game.

"The big challenge for us is their ability to run," he said.

"Adelaide create opportunities to run with their disruptive defence and their ability to crash the boards. They really dominate teams with possessions and the tempo of the game.

"They've got a system of play and they're really putting pressure on teams in those areas. It's going to be important for us to be able to deal with the extended pressure, and still be able to get into our offence and have an offensive mindset."

While the Hawks don't want to run all night with the Sixers, they can't stand around flat-footed.

"We need to stay aggressive," McLeod said.

"It's not about running the 24-second shot clock out."

Poor rebounding has been Wollongong's most glaring weakness this season.

In the previous meetings with the Sixers, the Hawks have been collectively out-rebounded 86-66.

Defence is another area they will have to tighten against the trigger-happy 36ers.

"You have to play to your style. We can't all of a sudden turn into a defensive juggernaut and try to play a certain style of defence if our players aren't capable of that," McLeod said. "It's important for us that we go out there and try and play our game."

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