BASKETBALL - HAWKS
Clawing their way into the playoffs against the odds is one thing; staring down the meanest bully on the block is another.
The Wollongong Hawks know the road to the championship runs through Perth.
The respective journeys of both teams through the regular season could not have been more contrasted.
Wollongong secured the lone remaining play-off spot in last week's final round; the Wildcats wrapped up the minor premiership weeks ago.
But while the Cats are almost everybody's tip to win the title, the Hawks insist they are capable of causing an upset when the best-of-three semi-final series starts on Friday night at Perth Arena.
"When you do these guys' strengths and weaknesses, it's quite easy to list their strengths, and a little bit more thinking goes in to trying to find their weaknesses to exploit," Hawks captain Oscar Forman said.
"The big thing is staying in control so we can run our stuff. As soon as they start pressing, if we hurry ourselves up and get in their style of game, that's not going to suit us at all."
That's an understatement.
The Wildcats love to harass opponents to distraction, wearing them down with strong defence and even stronger rebounding.
Wollongong lost two games in Perth by an average of 30.5 points during the regular season and will be in for similar punishment if they can't cope with the Cats' savage defensive intensity.
The Hawks are determined to draw the championship favourites into a walk-it-up game.
"They just want it to be up and down, so they can run on you and full-court press you," he said.
"If we can slow it down and make them play for sustained periods on defence, that's tough for them to get that momentum going. It becomes more stop-start, which they don't like as much.
"One of our little mantras is that we always have to be aggressive on the road and don't die wondering. That certainly has to be our mindset for this game."