Flynn targeted as Hawks take on Tigers

Jonny flynn takes on Lance Hurdle on court. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Jonny flynn takes on Lance Hurdle on court. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

He is the smallest player on the Melbourne roster but former NBA player Jonny Flynn looms as the biggest obstacle for the Wollongong Hawks tomorrow night.

Flynn, the number six pick in the 2009 NBA draft, has emerged as one of the NBL's best players since joining the Tigers in round six, as a replacement for sacked import Kevin Braswell.

Melbourne had managed a single win from five games before his arrival in Australia but have since won nine of 17 to be in third spot.

Averaging 17.6 points (3rd in the league) and 5.9 assists (2nd), the 182-centimetre playmaker had a memorable night when the Tigers beat the Hawks by seven earlier this month, tallying 23 points, eight assists and two steals.

Talented as Flynn is, Melbourne coach Chris Anstey believes the Hawks can't afford to make one player their defensive focus.

"It's too simplistic to say [the result] lays in his hands," Anstey said.

"Obviously, the ball's in Jonny's hands, being our point guard, but the more the ball moves for us, the better shots Chris Goulding gets, the better shots Adam Ballinger gets and better looks at the rim Seth Scott gets.

"The ball's in Jonny's hands a lot, so to a large extent the ball movement and offence starts with him. But we have to have three or four guys step up every single night on the offensive end and defensively, we have to be really, really solid."

The Tigers (10-12) will increase their buffer on the Hawks (10-14) if they win tomorrow.

On the flipside, Wollongong will leapfrog the Tigers into third spot if they prevail.

"We haven't been in the finals the last three years," Anstey said.

"From where we've come, being 2-8, any game we win is going to be like a play-off because we've been faced with that situation for the last two or three months now. We've had some good results and a couple of disappointing ones and this one can be no different. We can't be emotional. We have to make sure we treat it the same way we've treated the last six weeks of basketball. It's a really, really important game if we're serious about making finals."

The Hawks finish the regular season against Melbourne (away), Townsville (away), Sydney (home) and Adelaide (home). Four wins will definitely get them in, three almost certainly will, while two might even be enough.


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