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Hawks look to break historic losing streak in Perth

The Illawarra Hawks are steeling themselves to achieve something tonight that they‘ve not been able to accomplish for ten long years: defeat Perth in Perth. Overcoming the Wildcats on their home floor is one of the most difficult tasks in Australian basketball but, even without sharpshooter Kirk Penney, the high-flying Hawks are confident they can pull it off. If they do, Illawarra will avoid a disappointing season-series sweep and end an historic run of losses in Western Australia. NBL Coach and Player of the Month for December, Rob Beveridge and Kevin Lisch, share well-known history with the Wildcats having led them to a championship in 2010. Nonetheless, the Hawks have come up short in all three contests with Perth so far this season, adding a little extra spice to tonight’s clash as they attempt to avoid a 4-0 season-sweep. Beveridge believes the Hawks, who have won ten of their past twelve games, are now a totally different team to the one that lost to Perth in Rounds Three, Four and Six. “The fact is we were a brand new team. It’s a new system, new coach, new everything,” Beveridge told the Illawarra Mercury this week. “We just weren’t ready to win against the Perths at that time, it’s as simple as that. Now we are. “We’ve evolved as a group, everybody knows their role and we have this belief that we can win no matter what.” Illawarra’s other streak – the club’s losing streak in Perth – dates back a little further.  Actually, a lot further. The Hawks have lost their past 20 games in Western Australia. Yep, the last time Illawarra (known as Wollongong from 1998–2015) won in Perth was November 5, 2005. Unsurprisingly, it’s the longest losing streak in NBL history where a team has been unable to win on a particular opponent’s home floor.

Games Lost

Teams

Years

20

Illawarra Hawks @ Perth Wildcats

2006 – Current

16

Illawarra Hawks @ Perth Wildcats

1987 – 2000

16

Cairns Taipans @ Melbourne Tigers

2000 – 2009

15

Illawarra Hawks @ Adelaide 36ers

1991 – 2001

15

Canberra Cannons @ Perth Wildcats

1991 – 2003

14

Cairns Taipans @ Sydney Kings

2000 – 2011

14

Hobart Devils @ Adelaide 36ers

1983 – 1996

  Hawks Assistant Coach Eric Cooks has been at the club throughout the entire decade-long streak and is pretty keen to see it broken. “It’s something Flinny (Assistant Coach Matt Flinn) and I talk about between ourselves and people who have been around the club for a while are very aware of,” Cooks told nbl.com.au. “But it’s not something we talk about around the players because we do feel that this is a different group. This group hasn’t lost there twenty times.” Amazingly, the NBL’s equal-second longest losing streak in a particular city also belongs to Illawarra – and also involves the Wildcats! The Hawks lost 16 consecutive games in Perth from 1987–2000. All time, Illawarra is 6-46 in Perth. “We know it’s been a hard place for a lot of teams to win but obviously we’ve struggled there more than most,” Cooks said. “Perth really do play so well at home; they’ve been a very successful team for a long time so it’s no coincidence that they do very well at home. “Some of the games over those years we were in pretty good positions to win or at least come close so it’s a bit frustrating.” As for the head coach – a man who only joined the club in June last year – he’s not losing any sleep about historical losing streaks. “I really couldn’t care less about that,” Beveridge told the Mercury. “Obviously we’d love to win but if we lose it’s water off a duck’s back.”
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