Hawks can get into play-offs: Forman

BASKETBALL

Wollongong captain Oscar Forman rejected suggestions that his side didn't switch on mentally until it was almost too late last Friday against Townsville.

The Hawks were ahead 16-14 after five minutes, but the Crocodiles took control and led by double digits for most of the second and third quarters.

Just when their top-four hopes seemed to be slipping away, Wollongong stole the Crocodiles' thunder to win 94-85.

Forman declared the Hawks will be ready for Friday night's play-off showdown with the Kings at WIN Entertainment Centre.

"It wasn't a mental thing," Forman said.

"We were absolutely ready from the start, we knew the importance of the game, but they were shooting the ball well in the first half.

"At three-quarter time we talked about doing our usual stuff of making sure we force them to the perimeter, locking up the defence and communicating our switches.

"We did those things well in the fourth.

"We weren't leaving guys too open and we rebounded well in those last few minutes. We made big plays down the stretch and that was important for us."

If the Hawks had lost, their semi-final prospects would've hinged on beating both Sydney and Perth in this weekend's final round.

But Sunday's duel with Perth will be meaningless if Wollongong account for the Kings on Friday.

The Hawks should be confident after winning all three previous games against their Sydney foe.

"It's all there for us to get into the play-offs, and those other three games tell us that we know how to play them and our game plan is on point," Forman said.

"They'll come into our building hungry, and through the week we'll adjust and tweak things as we normally do.

"A big thing is focusing on ourselves, making sure we come out aggressive and pushing the ball. When we're doing that, we're putting people on the back foot and that comes to fruition in the fourth quarter for us."

The game is sure to draw the Hawks' biggest home crowd of the season. Tickets are $10 for kids, $20 for adults and $50 for families.

"We can't second-guess this team at all," Wollongong guard Rhys Martin said.

"It's just as dangerous - if not more dangerous - than playing Perth in Perth, just because of the situation we're in with Sydney.

"It's a new slate. You win one, you're in, and they're going to take the same approach. It'll be a cracker of a game."

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