Hawks call for extra spur

BASKETBALL

They have won four straight games and are looming as a genuine threat to snatch a finals berth.

But the Wollongong Hawks still haven't managed to captivate the community in the same manner as years gone by.

The Hawks drew one of their biggest crowds (2444) of the season on Friday against New Zealand, an increase of about 600 from the previous week against Townsville.

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The club's discounted ticket offer boosted spectator numbers and front-office staff are urging fans to get in early for the same cut-price tickets for Friday's home game against Adelaide.

Hawks general manager Stuart Wilkinson has made it clear that cheap tickets would almost certainly become a permanent fixture if they get fans flooding through the gate.

Coach Gordie McLeod said other clubs don't have to worry about the financial problems that face Wollongong every year.

"For our club to be able to achieve what we've achieved over such a long time in such a difficult market, it's a credit to everyone from the region, but we have to try and find ways to keep this thing going," McLeod said.

"To me it's not about winning championships. It's about having a pathway for young people to go along and be involved in sport, and it's about having a national team that local people can support and identify with.

"Growing up as a kid, this place was a sports mecca. It was just bubbling with so many different sports and teams that were trying to be in national competitions.

"We know all the issues our region has had, and has got, but if you want to keep something that's been around for a long time, we have to keep working hard and find different ways to do it. Obviously we need the community to be part of that."

Wollongong are fifth with five games remaining.

Their run to the finals is Adelaide (home), Cairns (h), Townsville (away), Sydney (h) and Perth (a).

The Hawks jumped out of the blocks in last Friday's 20-point rout of New Zealand, scoring the game's first eight points.

New Zealand led for a brief moment in the second quarter before the Hawks took control.

"It was electric," guard Rhys Martin said of his side's early blitz.

"There was a buzz in the stadium, everybody was pumped. It's hard to maintain that, but it was a fantastic start."

That they won so comfortably without import Kevin Tiggs, their second-leading scorer, highlighted how confidently they are playing.

"Our team right now has got really good chemistry," Martin said. "Hopefully we'll keep it rolling and make the play-offs."

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