Hawks look to set right tempo

BASKETBALL

The Wollongong Hawks will stick with their newfound "two-speed" game in Saturday's high-stakes clash with the Cairns Taipans at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Most NBL teams thought they had the book on the Hawks, but that was before they turned their season around with five consecutive wins.

The general perception was that Wollongong boasted an effective half-court offence but no running game.

The Hawks have made a mockery of that school of thought, averaging 94.6 points during their winning spree.

They are ready for anything against the Taipans.

"We'll have the same mindset of being aggressive that we've had over the last four or five weeks," forward Tim Coenraad said.

"We're playing that two-tempo pace, where we can grind it out but also get out and run.

"The reason we've been able to get up around the hundreds and nineties is because we're getting the early buckets a lot more. That's what's made the difference.

"We always knew we could grind out some points and run our offence, but at times that can get bogged down when teams play good defence, so it's good to have that second speed.

"When we get a defensive rebound and kick it out to [guards] Rhys [Martin] and Rotnei [Clarke] and they're pushing the ball hard, they can get in the lane and score or kick it out to shooters.

"We've been playing a lot more freer in the open court and that opens up the opposition's defence more."

Wollongong have had three intense down-to-the-wire battles with Cairns this season.

After beating the Taipans by two and by three in Cairns, the Hawks lost by two at home in the most recent meeting.

"It's a team that hurt us the last time they played here. We blew a nice half-time lead and they got up on a last-second shot, which was pretty heartbreaking," Coenraad said.

"They've got a lot of shooters and good inside targets. [Guard Jamar] Wilson's coming off a pretty good game, so his confidence will be high.

"We'll discuss how we want to play them and come up with our game plan."

Hawks officials are selling discounted tickets for the third straight home game.

Children are $10, adults are $15 and families are $40.

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