Townsville coach Shawn Dennis sees a lot in common with his own team when he looks at the Hawks.
While clubs like Perth and New Zealand never seem to be short of a dollar, Wollongong and Townsville struggle year to year to keep their heads above water.
"We're similar across the board," Dennis said.
"We're not rich teams, we're both under the salary cap. We're not the most athletic teams in the league and we both rely heavily on imports to put a lot into what you're doing."
More than a few NBL followers believe the Crocs and the Hawks are in a duel to avoid the wooden spoon.
Townsville are last with a 5-13 record, while Wollongong are one spot ahead at 6-13.
"We have patches of play where we're brilliant, as good as any team in the league," Dennis said.
"But when we have a low, my god do we have a low.
"We suddenly look like we're still learning the system.
"[Hawks coach] Gordie [McLeod] talks about it often, that you have to put smarts with effort, and we're very similar."
Townsville and the Hawks are square at 1-1 in their four-game series. The next meeting is in Wollongong on February 14.
Don't blame the cyclone
THE Hawks flat out rejected suggestions all the pre-game speculation about Cyclone Dylan affected their performance in last Friday’s 13-point loss to Townsville.
Aside from a couple of nervous moments as they prepared to land in North Queensland on Thursday afternoon, the Hawks didn’t have any weather worries on game day.
‘‘There was some turbulence and we had to abort the first landing attempt coming in, but we got down on the second and everything else about the trip was normal,’’ Wollongong captain Oscar Forman said.
‘‘There was a lot of [pre-match] focus on the storm and how the NBL might postpone the game, but we all knew when we got there it wasn’t going to be a factor.
‘‘Obviously the game wasn’t going to be on if it was dangerous. So that had nothing to do with the way we played. We didn’t lock into the plan or stick to our rules.’’
Wollongong need at least seven more wins to have any chance of snatching a third top-four finish in five years. Five of their next six games are at home, and the sixth is a short trip to Sydney to face the Kings.
On the flip side, their last game of the season is on the road against title favourites Perth.
‘‘We still have to go to Perth once more, but we have a reasonable run for the rest of the year,’’ Forman said.
‘‘We’ve lost seven games to Melbourne and New Zealand and we probably should’ve won a couple of those. But it’s all what-ifs and it doesn’t help to keep looking back.