Import Tiggs rated a 50-50 to return

BASKETBALL

Dynamic import Kevin Tiggs could be a surprise inclusion for Wollongong's all-important home game against Cairns on Saturday night.

Tiggs had minor knee surgery a fortnight ago and was expected to be sidelined for up to a month.

But the 29-year-old swingman has made a steady recovery and is in line for a comeback against the Taipans.

"I doubt it but it depends on the medical staff," Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said yesterday.

"There's still two days. He hasn't really gone out and loaded it up, so there's more chance that next week he'll get into practice and be more realistic for the Townsville game ... but you never know."

While Tiggs is a 50-50 prospect, Hawks' scoring leader Rotnei Clarke will definitely play.

Clarke copped a "burner" in his left arm after he collided with a teammate during Thursday's training session.

"It was one of those nervy-type things, but he's had treatment and we'll see how he is," McLeod said.

Both teams are desperate to win to stay in the finals race.

Never-say-die Wollongong (11-13) have come from nowhere to be in top-four contention, hauling themselves off the canvas with five straight wins.

Cairns (10-15) haven't lived up to preseason expectations but victories in their final three games might yet be enough to secure a semi-finals berth.

The Hawks are prepared for an intense battle.

"Every game is a challenge, but this one brings a uniqueness about it," McLeod said.

"Their depth and mobility across all positions, their ability to shoot the basketball ... they've got a lot of challenges that have really tested us in the past.

"They rebound well, they've got good bigs inside and bigs they can stretch the floor with, so it's about us trying to find the right game plan which is going to give us the disruption that we need, and then going out and executing it."

Inconsistent in the first two-thirds of the season, the Hawks struck form in the nick of time.

Victory over the Taipans would put them on the cusp of a third finals berth in five years, an admirable feat considering the club's shoestring budget.

The Hawks end the season with games against Townsville (away), Sydney (home) and Perth (away).

"We're very pleased with the development of the team," McLeod said.

"It's been really satisfying to see the players and the fans get some reward for the hard work they've put in."

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