Wollongong's rise to the top of the NBL ladder hasn’t got the Sydney Kings quaking in their boots ahead of tonight’s all-NSW stoush.
The undefeated Hawks (5-0) are the league’s form team and will be brimming with confidence after last week’s 33-point rout of title favourites Perth.
Sydney (3-4) have also been better than most pundits expected under coach Shane Heal and are relishing the chance to snap Wollongong’s win streak.
‘‘There’s no-one in this league that’s scary to play against. The Hawks showed that last week when they spanked Perth,’’ Heal said.
‘‘Every team in the league is beatable, but we know if we don’t play well that we’ll lose to any team in the league as well.
‘‘This is a great challenge for us against a team that’s undefeated. We know they’re a good team, but if we play our game we’re confident we can come away with the win,’’
The Hawks prevailed 79-76 against the Kings in the opening round.
‘‘We’re playing a lot better basketball than we did in the first round but they are as well. They’re playing with a whole lot of confidence so they certainly won’t be intimidated coming to Sydney,’’ Heal said.
The Kings have lost their past two homes games, though they might draw confidence from the fact they did not lose three consecutive games in Sydney at any stage last season.
Heal has urged his side to make the most of the supposed home advantage, particularly with their next four games all on the road.
‘‘We could be 4-0 on the road because we lost by three to New Zealand and Wollongong – two of the better teams,’’ he said.
‘‘At home we haven’t played as well, so we have to find a way to change that. That’s where our fans are and that’s how we want to build up that base.
‘‘This is a big one. There’s that NSW rivalry and we need to be able to stay in check with that top four.’’
The Hawks know they haven’t achieved anything yet. ‘‘The way we’re playing, it’s exciting for us and the fans as well, but we’re not looking past the Kings,’’ guard Tyson Demos said.