Hawks set up sudden-death against Kings

BASKETBALL

HAWKS

Finals fever has come a week early for the Wollongong Hawks.

The Hawks soared into the top four with Friday's come-from-behind 94-85 triumph over Townsville and have shifted their attention to this Friday's do-or-die showdown with arch-rivals Sydney at WIN Entertainment Centre.

The equation is simple: if the Hawks beat the Kings they are in the semi-finals, if they lose they will almost certainly miss out.

A win over Sydney would be the Hawks' 13th of the season.

That would guarantee them fourth spot, regardless of the outcome of their final-round road game against minor premiers Perth on Sunday.

"It's come down to one game," Wollongong guard Rhys Martin said.

"It's been a weird season. Two months ago everyone wrote us off.

"We have to take care of business one more time. It's to make the play-offs, so it'll be a massive game."

The Hawks have shared a long rivalry with the Kings, stretching back to the days when Sydney were known as the Supersonics.

Given the stakes are so high on Friday, it could be one of the all-time great battles between the NSW foes.

"It'll be absolute madness against Sydney," Martin said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a little too heated at one point. It'll be a really intense game."

Hawks officials are hoping to draw a near sell-out crowd.

"It doesn't get any bigger or better than two arch-rivals playing each other for a spot in the semi-finals," Hawks marketing and business manager Courtney Beaton said.

Wollongong's season was hanging by a thread at three-quarter time against Townsville.

But they overturned a 10-point deficit in stunning fashion, winning the final period 31-12.

Martin was ice-cool in crunch time, scoring eight of his 15 points in the final 90 seconds.

"They shot the lights out in the first half and it's tough to defend when a team's doing that. We did a good job weathering the storm," Martin said.

"That third quarter was a grind. We knew we had a good shot if we just hung in there.

"We kind of took the sting out of them and ground them into a half-court game, because it wasn't that up and down pace that the first half was. In the fourth quarter we took over."

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