Sunday Dech shapes as a potential match winner when the Hawks seek redemption in New Zealand on Saturday.
That's the belief of Illawarra big man Josh Boone, who said Dech, 25, was playing "fantastic basketball" in both offence and defence.
The Hawks are keen to atone for last month's trip to Auckland where the Breakers had a thumping 103-72 win.
Breakers star Corey Webster is in doubt for Saturday's match due to an ankle injury. However, Boone said New Zealand had plenty of dangerous scoring options - including Scott Hopson, RJ Hampton and Jarrad Weeks.
"They've got a lot of offensive weapons but the good thing is we've got a lot of guys playing at a really high level," Boone said.
"Someone like Sunday Dech, for example, is playing with a lot of confidence. Sometimes these young guys don't necessarily know they're not meant to go out there and have a better game than some of the stars. And Sunday has been a prime example of that.
"Yes, he can score but ultimately the best thing he does for us is play defence. He's the guy that goes out there and takes the best ball handler on court and tries to pressure them... he leads us with his defensive energy more than anything."
Boone said he expected a "pretty hostile" reception from the Auckland crowd.
"It was jumping when we went over there last time," he said. "I think it was their first chance to see [NBL Next Stars] RJ [Hampton] and LaMelo [Ball]. I would imagine it's going to be a similar atmosphere.
"But we hadn't really found our identify first time when we went there... they blew us out of the game. This time, we're a lot better prepared. We're more comfortable with our schemes and I think we're going to do a lot better this time."
The Hawks' season record stands at 3-8 after the side recorded a 114-106 victory in overtime against Cairns on Monday night. All three wins have come against the Taipans.
"It gives us a lot of confidence, but unfortunately the only thing we've been able to beat this year is Cairns. Now, we've got to prove it against of these other teams in the league," Boone said.
"It [Monday night's win] showed to me a couple of things. It showed we've definitely improved - for about 32 minutes, we really had that game. But it showed that we still have a lot of room to grow. We gave up a lead but were able to come back. We had the will and desire to really take it up to them in overtime.
"It showed me the good and bad, but a lot more good than bad."
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