Lamelo Ball has helped Matt Flinn start his NBL coaching career on a positive note as the Illawarra Hawks defeated the Australian Indigenous Basketball All-Stars 110-87 at the Snakepit on Saturday night.
Flinn took positives from the 23-point victory, in which Ball chipped in with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in 17 minutes of action, but knows there's room for improvement.
"It was a good hit-out which allowed us to continue to try to find our identity as a team," Flinn said.
"We're a team that likes to push the pace and score but the amount you risk on offence is determined by the strength of your defence.
"We obviously want to play an exciting brand of basketball people want to come and watch but we can't be leaking points on the other end.
"So there's work to do on the defensive end before our next trial match against Melbourne United."
Two catalysts for this excitement were Ball and 645-game NBA veteran Aaron Brooks, who scored 12 points on Saturday.
"Both Lamelo [Ball] and Aaron [Brooks] are fantastic people who've bought into what we are trying to achieve," Flinn said.
"One of our values here [at the club] is joy, as we like to enjoy everything we do and those two optimise that - they're always upbeat.
"It's going to be an exciting year with this group."
The All-Stars, led by William Hickey's game-high 25 points, jumped out of the blocks to lead 20-16 midway through the first quarter before the Hawks ended the period on a 20-7 run.
Flinn's troops never looked back and ran away with a comfortable 23-point win, with Todd Blanchfield top-scoring for the hosts with 14.
"It was an emotional night for the All-Stars - they played their hearts out," Flinn said.
"I'm really proud our club continues to lead the NBL in raising awareness of the Indigenous culture, as I know how important it is to people in the Illawarra."
The Hawks now turn their attention's to Friday's pre-season clash with Melbourne United at Ballarat, before facing Perth at Kingborough on September 20, Melbourne at Hobart on September 22 and Sydney at Wollongong on September 29 - with the season's home opener against Brisbane on October 6.
"The Indigenous All-Stars showed us the intensity we need to play at if we are going to be successful in this competition," Flinn said.
"We are a blue-collar team from a blue-collar town and we should always play with that chip on our shoulder.
"There's plenty of lessons to be learnt from this first hit-out and I'm really excited about our group moving forward." AAP
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