With just four games to go, the Wollongong Hawks may want to cast their eyes back 12 months for inspiration before they continue their finals charge against Cairns Taipans on Saturday.
The Hawks won three of their last four games to finish in the top four last campaign and are in need of a similar performance to greet the post-season once more.
With the NBL ladder the tightest ever, Hawks centre Larry Davidson is relying on the knowledge his side prevailed under similar circumstances in 2013, to get them over the line again.
‘‘It is definitely something you can look at,’’ Davidson said.
‘‘It is similar, in that the game we had on Friday was pretty much do-or-die.
‘‘Having been in those games last year and even this year it is good to be able to draw on that and see we had success doing it.
‘‘Even in the middle of the game when things aren’t looking good, it is good to be able to look back on times you have succeeded in those situations.
‘‘I think it gives you a bit of confidence and helps you focus.’’
The last time Cairns came to town, lack of focus cost a 16-point half-time lead.
But with semi-finals spots well and truly up for grabs, Davidson is confident the pressure will bring out Wollongong’s best.
‘‘It brings pressure but that is what you want,’’ Davidson said.
‘‘You would much rather that than coming here knowing that you can’t make the semi’s and the season was a bit disappointing.’’
‘‘Now we have put ourselves in a really good position but we have to make sure that we carry on with it and take the mindset that we have had in the last few of weeks.’’
That mindset has seen the Hawks claim a season-best five straight NBL wins, with Gordie McLeod Coach of the Month and import Rotnei Clarke picking up the player’s gong.
The run of form has seen Wollongong move from the bottom of the ladder to just outside the top-four, above Saturday’s opponent Cairns.
‘‘We beat them twice up there and they have beaten us here once so it is a massive game obviously,’’ Davidson said.
‘‘I guess for us it is about learning from when we played them last time and what we can improve on from that.
‘‘Also taking from the last five games what has been good for us and really trying to work on keeping that there.’’
Just when they need it most, Cairns will bring some of best form they have had all year to Wollongong this Saturday.
With their slim semi-finals hopes on the line last week against the New Zealand Breakers, the Taipans turned it on in the second half to register a 92-87 victory.
Coach Aaron Fearne said it was the best performance he has seen from his side this year and called upon his veteran players to lead the way again at WIN Entertainment Centre.
‘‘That is what they need to do week in, week out,’’ Fearne said.
‘‘I will be definitely looking for that because we have Clint Steindl, [Cameron] Gliddon, Mitch Young, Shaun Bruce and even though he is import Demetri [McCamey] he is still fairly young as well.
‘‘So the older guys, they need to lead from the front.’’
Fearne’s 30-year-old import Jamar Wilson was the chief destroyer in their win over the Breakers, scoring a season high 33 points.
But the American guard will need to keep up the strong form if the Taipans are to keep momentum flowing toward a finals appearance.
‘‘If you look at right now obviously from third to eighth is anyone’s game. This weekend will make it a little bit clearer for a couple of teams but it makes it exciting,’’ Fearne said.
‘‘It is great for the league, great for the fans, we definitely expect a pretty good crowd down there in Wollongong.’’
A buzzer-beating victory in their last visit to Wollongong ensures the Taipans will bring fond memories to the South Coast and Fearne plans on making the most of the lessons learnt in that come-from-behind win.
‘‘We are going to have to play with some good discipline, really defend well, force a lot of contested shots and not leave wide open threes or men open under the bucket,’’ Fearne said.
‘‘It will be important to do that because we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half [last game] down there.
‘‘In the second half I thought we did that at a high level and we were able to build some pressure and turn the game.’’
- MITCH COHEN