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Illawarra Hawks v Melbourne United Game Preview

Illawarra Hawks v Melbourne United When: 3pm (AEDT), Sunday 6 November Where: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong Broadcast: NBL TV; SBS; Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ Ignoring the imposters Melbourne United may have been missing David Barlow for the season to date, Chris Goulding for the past two weeks and Todd Blanchfield this round, but that hasn’t cushioned the blow of dropping three games on the trot. “Nobody’s happy, I don’t know if you looked at our record, there’s no one happy here, we’re not pleased and no one’s satisfied with anything around here right now and we shouldn’t be,” coach Dean Demopoulos said. But ever since he arrived in Australia, the lateral-thinking American has told any reporter who will listen how important it is for his team to live in the moment, and he’s not changing his tune ahead of Sunday’s crucial road clash with Illawarra. “An old man told me a long time ago you have to treat winning and losing as imposters, and I've said it a million times, win or lose the preparation for the next game is ongoing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what happened before, you learn from it, you move on and you have another hurdle to climb. The quicker you can flip the page, especially with two games in three nights, the better off you are.” Demopoulos will take heart from his team’s ability to overcome a slow start the last time they played the Hawks, winning the final 27 minutes 70-50 after slipping behind early in the second term. “They have a pretty solid positive energy collectively since they faced some adversity early,” Demopoulos said. “We were down 10 in that game at one point, at home, and I looked in their eyes and there was very little frustration.” Opportunity knocks The heroes of that game were Blanchfield with 27 points and Goulding with 16 points and seven dimes. That pair will be watching on come Sunday, but Demopoulos repeated his often-used line about his bench players. “I have confidence with anybody who has trained with us over an extended period of time I have confidence putting them in the game,” he said. Melbourne almost pulled off a herculean upset over the talented Breakers on Friday, development player Kyle Adnam the unexpected hero as his 19 points at 60 per cent brought the Hisense Arena crowd to life and earned him a seat at the post-game press conference. “I’m not a bible guy but ‘he also serves who labours and waits’ and the guy next to me is a great example of that. When he got his opportunity he made the most out of it,” Demopoulos said. “It’s when opportunity meets preparation that this stuff happens.” Adnam and fellow guards Ramone Moore and Nate Tomlinson have an outstanding opportunity against the Hawks, whose defence has been giving up penetration like it’s going out of fashion in recent weeks. Stick to the plan Against Cairns last Sunday, Rob Beveridge’s mean simply failed to take anything away from their visitors, allowing six Taipans to score in double figures. “We broke down from our game plan,” Beveridge said. “Every single possession is important, it’s not every second possession, and I think we’re breaking down mentally at times.” It was the same problem in their Round 2 loss to Melbourne, when Cedric Jackson’s penetration freed up shooters time and time again. “The game plan was we were not going to leave shooters open at all, don’t help,” Beveridge said. “If Cedric is going to go for 20-30 points through his penetration and backing you in one-on-one, that’s what we were going to give up, so it’s pretty disappointing.” With David Andersen, Tai Wesley, Majok Majok, Jackson, Moore and Adnam in uniform, Melbourne still have enough firepower to post a winning score if Illawarra’s defence doesn’t improve from last round. Self-inflicted wounds While the Hawks have some formidable defensive pieces in Mitch Norton, Kevin White, Nick Kay, AJ Ogilvy and the shot-blocking of Michael Holyfield, Norton called on his entire squad to understand the job required at the defensive end so Rotnei Clarke and Marvelle Harris can have a launchpad for their high-octane offence. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Norton said. “We’d come down and get one or two stops in a row, but you really want to get three stops in a row, we’d break the scout and they’d make us pay. “It comes down to one-on-one scout and not everyone was locked in.” After this round, the Hawks have eight of their next 10 games on the road, and given they are winless away from The Sandpit this season, another home loss this week could put their finals chances in serious jeopardy. However, so tight is this season’s NBL that a win on Sunday would relegate Melbourne to last place and put Illawarra within one game of fourth spot, and Beveridge wants his team to play with a level of urgency to match the situation. “We’re in a hole at the moment and we’ve got to lick our wounds,” he said. “I’m a fighter and I expect that from the team as well, we’re not going to lay down. Last year we didn’t start real well, obviously we haven’t started well this season so we’ve got to put our fingers in the dyke real quick.”
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