ILLAWARRA coach Rob Beveridge is realistic about the Hawks’ fading finals hopes, but he won’t be demanding any less from his side over their remaining nine games.
The Hawks sunk to 8-11 for the season in surrendering a six-point lead at three-quarter-time to go down by three to Adelaide in Wollongong on Saturday night.
It’s a loss that has the potential to haunt them down the stretch and Beveridge admitted it stung more than their other defeats this season.
“I’m really disappointed, particularly for the guys because they are working hard,” Beveridge said.
“We’re trying to find ways to all get on the same page and I thought we were the better team for the majority of the game.
“The fourth quarter defensively was just not good enough. We had breakdowns in defensive transition, they got a couple of easy lay-ups and and-ones that put it out of reach for us.
“We’re now two games out of the playoffs and you’ve got to beat Adelaide, Brisbane, New Zealand… you’ve got to beat those teams.
“You’ve got to win and that was one and we lost it. It got away and it’s probably going to be painful for a bit of time.”
It puts them two wins out of the top four with nine games to play, making the playoffs mountains very steep, but Beveridge says he won’t let his side go out with a whimper.
“The last nine games of the season, if that’s what it is, we’ve got to give our heart and souls to it for each other,” he said.
“It’s been an extremely challenging season because we have been so up and down but that’s my expectation for the last nine games.
“We’re going in with the mindset where we need to win as many games as we can. We’re not saying we’re out of the playoff race at all.
“We are still in the playoff race. Is it difficult, absolutely, but that’s the challenge for us now, to have a crack at this together as a group.
“We need to play with some self-belief and be proactive because that gives us a chance.”
Things certainly won’t get any easier, with the Hawks backing up against Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday. The Kings will no doubt be smarting from their last meeting, a seven-point win to the Hawks in Wollongong a week ago.
They’ll also be on the second leg of a home double following their match against New Zealand on Friday but Beveridge said his focus will be firmly turned inward.
“We know how good Sydney are but this is about us,” Beveridge said.
“We’ve got to bounce back in the next 48 hours, it’s simple as that.
“There was a period of time there [against Adelaide] where our body language was just crap again. I’ve challenged our guys about an expectation that, no matter what happens, we have to have great effort and great body language.
“Obviously we beat Sydney here on the home court, they want revenge and we know that. It’a a huge challenge, there’s no doubt about that, but we’re just going to do the best we can to prepare for that game.”