Hawks bear no scars from latest defeat

BASKETBALL

The Wollongong Hawks swear they aren't nursing any psychological bruises from last week's semi-final dress rehearsal with Perth.

After clinching fourth spot with last Friday's 100-87 home win over Sydney, the Hawks went down 86-65 to the Wildcats less than 48 hours later in Perth.

Both teams already knew they would face-off five days later in the first game of a best-of-three semi-final series.

As it turned out, Wollongong were down only by three at half-time before being held to just six points in the third quarter.

Most tipsters are predicting more of the same for Wollongong on Friday.

The Hawks preferred to find a silver lining, believing they copped a harsh yet timely reminder of how they simply can't afford to switch off for a single moment now that the play-offs have arrived.

"It was that one quarter that killed us in that game, because they really took off and ran with it from there," forward Tim Coenraad said.

"People weren't playing as much as they would've been if it was a semi-final, but we're still competitors and wanted to win it.

"We can take some things out of it and look at the film, but I don't think they played the way they're going to play on Friday night."

Wollongong actually bolted to a 10-0 lead last Sunday before the Cats turned the tables.

"It was a weird game for both teams," Hawks forward Dave Gruber said.

"They did a few things that we handled well and they did some things we didn't handle so well. Their pressure defence is a big part of their game and we need to be able to handle that.

"Given what's at stake this week, we expect both teams to come ready to play."

Gruber predicts a fast pace early before the tempo slows.

"With the play-off atmosphere, the energy and emotions will be high and both teams will come out firing in the first couple of minutes, then we'll both settle in and see where we're at," he said.

"Our focus is 100 per cent on this game. We've had meetings and watched video, and we've got our game plan in place."

The Hawks are hoping to attract a sell-out crowd to Sunday's second game of the series at WIN Entertainment Centre.

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