One is trying to re-establish himself after two years of injury issues, the other simply wants to prove he belongs.
Wollongong forwards Dave Gruber and Dan Jackson both took important strides in the right direction last night at WIN Entertainment Centre, helping the Hawks to a convincing 84-66 defeat of Townsville.
Gruber, who missed large chunks of the previous two seasons with ankle and hand injuries, was just about his team's best player, racking up 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench.
Jackson toiled in the background with the Hawks for five seasons and is finally showing the kind of confidence and skills which made him an Australian under 19 rep.
Playing 13 minutes against the Crocs as decorated veteran Glen Saville's understudy, Jackson had five points, three rebounds, a steal, an assist and a block.
Wollongong captain Oscar Forman said Jackson and Gruber epitomise what the Hawks are about.
"When you watch Gruber, it makes you feel guilty if you don't play as hard as he does," Forman said.
"You know he's always out there playing hard because that's his game, and when you see him out there working his tail off like that, it lifts everyone. He's an energy player and he gets the guys fired up.
"I'm really happy for him to have a game like that. He's had two tough seasons in the last two years, so for him to come in and have that impact, I'm really happy for him.
"I'm really proud of Jacko. He's had a good pre-season and come into the season and taken the next step. He's showing how he can help us."
After starting the season with wins over Sydney and Cairns, Wollongong played their best game of the season against the Crocs, clicking at both ends of the floor before a crowd of 3836.
The Hawks held their opponents to 32 per cent shooting and out-rebounded them 47-30.
"The pleasing thing was the disruption. The guys did a really good job defensively," Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.
"When you can keep a team to 30 points at the half, you're really laying a foundation for yourself. We took away their strengths.
"The other big thing was rebounding, because you can get people to miss shots but if you're not coming up with possession that can really hurt you. Our rebounding helped the guys get on a bit of a run.
"The contributions we got off the bench gave us that lift and energy that we needed and helped us get a lead. In my time since I've been back at the club, we've had guys come off the bench and give us good minutes, and I don't expect it to be any different this year.
"We spoke about coming out in the second half and replicating what we did in the first half, and the guys did a good job of that."
The Crocs were coming off Friday's heartbreaking two-point road loss to titleholders New Zealand and remain winless after four games.
"Wollongong is obviously a good team," Townsville coach Paul Woolpert said.
"They're tough at home, they're confident, they're well-coached, they can shoot the ball, they execute extremely well at the offensive end.
"We can make an excuse that we're road-weary, but I don't like excuses. Being tired and fatigued has nothing to do with failure to execute, and we didn't execute. We have to understand the fact that we need to execute better at the offensive end."
The Hawks will be keen to keep their unbeaten record intact when they take on the Adelaide 36ers this Sunday in Adelaide.