Big crowd to be embraced

ATMOSPHERE: The Perth Arena crowd get on their feet after Wildcats veteran Greg Hire sinks a half court shot in their season opener. Picture: AAP
ATMOSPHERE: The Perth Arena crowd get on their feet after Wildcats veteran Greg Hire sinks a half court shot in their season opener. Picture: AAP

It’s one of the most hostile away trips in Australian sport at the moment, but Hawks guard Mitch Norton says he can’t wait for the challenge of stepping out at a packed Perth Arena against the Wildcats this week.

Illawarra will make the trip across the country on Friday night for a grand final rematch against the Wildcats on their home floor.

Perth broke the NBL record for first round encounters last weekend when 13,403 fans turned out at Perth Arena for their victory over the Brisbane Bullets.

Another parochial home crowd is expected when the Hawks come to town. It’s something Norton is looking forward to.

“I love it,” Norton said.

“It is good to have these games early in the year. We are on the road alot but at the same time it is a basketball game so you can’t let that build up in the background. But I love it, because it brings in that us versus them mentality.

“There is the 14 or 15 of us that go over there against 13,500 or 14,000 people. It really brings the group closer together and I think the quicker we can do that the better. The road games really help with that.”

Illawarra broke a decade long winless run in Perth last year before falling to the Wildcats at the venue twice in the decider.