Hawks in play-off wrangle

BASKETBALL

Wollongong forward Tim Coenraad believes desperation provided the key to putting the Hawks on a path to a play-off berth.

Rooted to the bottom of the NBL ladder at the start of 2014, it seemed almost impossible for Wollongong to return to the post-season.

But six wins in seven games, means a victory on Friday night against Sydney Kings will all-but assure the Hawks a spot in the final four.

Coenraad put the change in fortune down to the team’s hunger.

‘‘I guess [there was] a sense of desperation at the start, seeing ourselves on the bottom of the ladder and just being competitors, we wanted to get out of that position,’’ Coenraad said.

‘‘We were able to string some wins together and get some confidence.

‘‘It has just turned into this little streak that we have going on.

‘‘We slipped up a little against Cairns but we were able to come back and get a good away win to keep us in the hunt.’’

Last Friday’s 94-85 victory in Townsville put Wollongong in a superb position for a top-four finish, but a win over Sydney will finish the job.

On the flip side, a loss would require the Hawks to beat the Wildcats in Perth on Sunday and hope Sydney lose at home on Saturday to Townsville.

‘‘We are really excited about the game. It is a do-or-die clash pretty much,’’ Coenraad said.

‘‘Whoever wins is probably going to go through to the play-offs.’’

He said continuing the ‘‘brand’’ of their recent play is the key.

The Hawks will head into Friday’s clash with confidence in the knowledge the Kings have failed to beat them in all three of their meetings this season.

But Coenraad was only prepared to focus on his opponents recent form before the must-win encounter.

‘‘They are a real confident team and they have done a great job to get there too,’’ Coenraad said.

‘‘That win against Adelaide was pretty much needed to stay in the hunt so it has set up a really great clash this weekend.

‘‘I think it will make both teams play a really high intensity brand of basketball which will be really good to watch and good to play in ... I can’t wait for it.’’

The Hawks hopes of a sell-out crowd suffered a setback on Tuesday when Ticketek’s server went down for an extended period during the day.

The online operations resumed after 3pm and a large crowd is still expected at WIN Entertainment Centre.

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