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Devastated Beveridge rules out Lisch for Game 2

A devastated Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge has ruled out two-time NBL MVP Kevin Lisch from Sunday's must-win Semi-Final Game 2 against the Perth Wildcats after injuring his ankle on Friday night. Lisch could not have come back down to earth much quicker or with a louder thud than when he fell hard during the first quarter at Perth Arena on Friday night with the Hawks taking on the Wildcats in Game 1 of their Semi-Final match up as part of the Swisse NBL Finals Series.
Just two days before on Wednesday night, Lisch was voted the MVP of the NBL for the second time marking his successful return to the league following two seasons in Spain and in his first season with the Hawks after playing his previous four with Perth. And just as Lisch was warming up in his highly-anticipated battle with 2010 Championship teammate Damian Martin who had won the previous five Defensive Player of the Year awards before Lisch took it out this season, it came crushing down. He fell hard during the opening quarter and was helped from the floor and into the rooms where his left ankle was clearly severely hurt. Lisch returned to the bench on crutches and in a moon boot to cheer on and support his teammates as the Wildcats ended up winning 80-68. That means the Hawks must beat the Wildcats back at WIN Entertainment Centre in Game 2 on Sunday, but Beveridge has conceded that Lisch is no chance of being there. "It's not good, it looks pretty bad. It blew up straightaway and he is in an enormous amount of pain. We play again in less than 36 hours so I'd say he has next to no chance of playing, so it looks like his season is over," Beveridge said. "We'll try and get him on the midnight flight to get home and get it X-rayed straightaway. But there's no chance he's playing this weekend."
Back to the drawing board ? A photo posted by The NBL (@nbl) on
Beveridge has been Lisch's only coach in the NBL and was the one that brought him to Australia to begin his professional career after his time in college at Saint Louis University. That bond was reaffirmed when Beveridge was appointed coach with Illawarra and Lisch was quick to sign to return to the NBL. And the pair have been instrumental in the Hawks improving from wooden spooners to Championship contenders. Beveridge couldn’t hide his devastation for Lisch after the game and for how difficult it made the Hawks task of trying to win in Perth against the Wildcats. "I'm devastated for the guy, absolutely devastated for him and for the team. When we have our 10 players on the floor, we are legitimately one of the best teams of the league," he said. "But it's really hard to go against a super power like Perth when you don’t have a player like Lisch in the team, it's as simple as that. I don’t know how you can possibly win in this environment without your best team." The Hawks' backs are now firmly against the wall heading into Game 2 without Lisch. But with Kirk Penney leading the way anything is possible and Beveridge knows that only too well. Back in 2011, Beveridge led the Wildcats to a Game 1 Semi-Final win in New Zealand before Penney put in a remarkable performance in Game 2 back in Perth with 38 points to win the game for the Breakers who went on to claim the series and ultimately the Championship. Beveridge will now go to work on trying to find a way to orchestrate something similar to force a Game 3 back at Perth Arena next Friday. "Right now we just have to go with what we've got and I love these guys, they are a tremendous group. We're going to make a pact that we are going to try as hard as we possibly can for each other. It's going to be very difficult but we are going to play our guts out," Beveridge said. "We all have to raise obviously with Lisch out. I was pleased for Timmy (Coenraad) that he stepped up and as far as we're concerned, we've got one game to go on our court and we are going to leave it all out there. "If the Wildcats want to go to the Grand Final they have to earn it on our court that's for sure."
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