HAWKS - BASKETBALL
From something bad comes something good. Wollongong captain Oscar Forman didn't use those exact words to describe Saturday's 82-79 home loss to Cairns but the Hawks certainly aren't panicking.
After they laboured through the first three quarters against the Taipans, Wollongong outscored the visitors 31-17 in the final period to just fall short of a dramatic comeback victory.
Forman said the Hawks must address some deficiencies but will otherwise stay focused on what they did well.
"We have to take something out of that game because it showed us if we don't come ready and with intensity, we'll get beaten.
"It also showed us that whatever situation we're in, we're good enough to come back if we play good basketball," he said.
"We got rattled for a few minutes but we regrouped and came out strong. It's a timely reminder for us that if we're down, we have to remain composed and believe we can fight our way out of it."
Most of the game statistics suggested that little separated Wollongong and Cairns.
The Taipans grabbed slightly more rebounds (27-25), hit 12 three-pointers to the Hawks' 10 and had three less turnovers.
Cairns did all the damage in the first three quarters, as the hosts struggled to make shots and rebound.
"We didn't come out at the start of the game the way we wanted to, and they came out with a lot of energy and got after the offensive boards," Forman said.
"Our team defence wasn't there throughout the second and third quarters but they had five offensive boards in the first quarter and that set the tone.
"They got that early lead and we were chasing the whole game. We boarded well from then but that first quarter hurt us."
While third spot is officially out of reach, Wollongong are still very much in contention for fourth.
Melbourne's home win over Sydney yesterday left Wollongong (11-14), Cairns (11-15) and the Kings (11-13) in a three-way battle for the last finals berth.
"Obviously we'll keep an eye on other results but we have to make sure we focus on ourselves and our own preparation," Forman said.
"We want to finish 14-14 and give ourselves the best shot."
The Hawks road clash with Townsville on Friday is effectively a do-or die situation.
Import Kevin Tiggs is due to return from a knee injury.
The Hawks wrap up the 28-game regular season with meetings with Sydney (home) and Perth (away).
"Last time we went up to Townsville, we didn't win a game we should've won, so we have to make sure we rectify that," Forman said.