Sunday’s drought-breaking success in Perth will do more than just kill Illawarra’s curse in the Western Australian capital, according to Hawks coach Rob Beveridge.
The coach believes the win – Illawarra’s first in Perth since November 5, 2005 – will give his men the confidence needed to repeat the feat if required at the business end of the campaign. The Hawks had never won a game at Perth Arena heading into their round eight clash and were down by as many as 14 points in the first quarter before fighting back to secure a sensational 89-85 victory.
"This is one of the toughest if not the toughest to play in. The way we handled the comebacks, the crowd, everything that was really, really special for us as a group for self belief that we can win in a building like this,” Beveridge said.
A former Wildcats coach, Beveridge had never won a game in Perth while in charge of another club.
Illawarra’s struggles in Perth date back even further than Beveridge’s time at the helm of the Wildcats.
They had lost 25 straight NBL matches in the west before their drought-breaking success.
“[It’s been] 11 years so it is super special from my perspective because I have been in this building so many times coaching the Wildcats," Beveridge said.
"When you come back here, I have got an emotional attachment to the club.
"My family is finally making the move over to the East Coast so this is the last time my family will be here in Perth to watch that.
"It is unbelievably special particularly for Rhys [Martin] who has been in the league for nine years and never won in Perth.
“For our players who have been long term members of the club, it is special for them as well.”
The win was Illawarra’s second big scalp in as many weeks after they demolished last season’s other grand finalist New Zealand by 31 points at home in round seven.
But the triumph over the Breakers came just two days after New Zealand beat the Hawks by 15-points in Perth.
Hawks co-captain Rhys Martin said his side must find consistency.
"The challenge for us now is, yes we beat NZ and yes we beat Perth but can we play well week after week,” he said.
“Be mentally tough, do the little things and get the boards. AJ [Ogilvy] had a great game on the rebound count but so did the rest of the team. We were picking up everything.
“That is our challenge. It is not so much beating the big teams, it is ourselves consistently being the best."
Illawarra’s win over the Wildcats moves them to 6-6 on the season and into the top-four since the beginning of round two. Perth and Brisbane Bullets are just half a game ahead of the Hawks at 6-5 while New Zealand (6-6) are behind Illawarra on percentages.