Wildcats clash to be a tough task for Hawks

The Hawks’ Dave Gruber taking on the New Zealand Breakers.  Picture: ADAM MCLEAN
The Hawks’ Dave Gruber taking on the New Zealand Breakers. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Describing the Perth Wildcats' home court as a graveyard for the Wollongong Hawks is probably an understatement.

Of the 44 road games they have played against the Wildcats since Perth joined the NBL in 1982, Wollongong have prevailed just six times.

The Hawks are aiming to improve that record when they square off with the Cats tomorrow afternoon despite backing up from last night's road meeting with the Adelaide 36ers.

Despite their dismal history in Cats country, the Hawks' prospects of a win on Sunday might be more promising than usual.

Perth played the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland last night and have to fly a lot further than the Hawks to get back home.

And while Wollongong have lost their past seven games, their last win was against the Wildcats in round 11 at WIN Entertainment Centre.

The Hawks have also taken heart from the fact new import Malcolm Grant has his first game under his belt.

"The best thing about Malcolm is that he's come in with the right attitude," forward Dave Gruber said.

"He's a different type of player to [injured import] Lance [Hurdle]. He's not going to be as explosive and get up and dunk like Lance, but he hit me with a few passes on his first day of practice and I didn't even know I was open. All of a sudden the ball was in my hands and I'm scoring a layup.

"Hopefully we can get some easy opportunities off that and he can break people down and find some shooters and get everybody rolling.

"When everybody's rolling, everybody contributes in their own way and we really roll as a team."

The Hawks went down to titleholders New Zealand last week, losing veteran forward Glen Saville to a season-ending knee injury in the opening quarter.

They were down by only two points at three-quarter time but were no match for the Breakers in the final period.

"Their depth, their class . . . the more real telling thing was our turnovers, because they really punished us," coach Gordie Mcleod said.

"You have to expect a little unorganisation when we've virtually changed our starting five.

"The thing we have to be pleased about is that we fought hard. We hung in there and battled away, but that fourth quarter ... just broke our back.

"We have to try and find ways to compete with these other teams. We have to be smarter and value the ball. The Breakers scored 28 points off turnovers to our four, and a lot of that's coming because we're not organised and we're not sure what we're doing.

"We're going to get the same thing when we go to Adelaide and Perth, so we better get used to handling that pretty quickly."

This weekend's trip represents the first games for the Hawks since Saville announced his retirement.


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