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Illawarra Hawks v Sydney Kings Game Preview

Illawarra Hawks v Sydney Kings When: 7.30pm (AEST), Thursday 13 October Where: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports Board silly When Sydney Kings coach Andrew Gaze was asked what could be expected from new import and NBA championship winner Josh Powell, he was pretty straight up. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve seen the vision of him, I’ve spoken to Brian Goorjian about him, he’s a veteran, but until you actually see it and put it in there you never actually know,” he said. Some two years ago Powell suited up for his first, and only, game for the Houston Rockets and pulled in five rebounds in just 19 minutes. Given just one King, Brad Newley, grabbed more than five boards in the loss to Brisbane last weekend, Gaze will probably be happy with a similar debut from his new recruit, however he warned his players not to expect Powell to do their work for them. “You can’t just throw one guy out there and that’s the panacea to all your rebounding problems, it’s a collective thing that we’ve got to get everyone engaged in and understanding the urgency that’s required,” he said. Remarkably, Newley and Greg Whittington were the only Kings to collect more than two defensive boards against the Bullets, Gaze clear his team’s poor rebounding form of pre-season and Round 1 won’t be tolerated. “We’re going to be the biggest barrel-chested team in the competition because even at practice if there’s an offensive rebound we’re making the guys do five push-ups,” he said. “I can’t remember a game this season where we’ve won the rebounding count and you can’t do that, you’re giving the opposition too much of a head start.” Hawks soaring The Kings head to Wollongong this Thursday to take on the buoyant Hawks, who made an emphatic statement with their 122-88 demolition of Adelaide. Coach Rob Beveridge has no such concern about his team’s work inside, where big men AJ Ogilvy, Nick Kay and Michael Holyfield ripped down 19 rebounds between them in just 52 minutes, the Hawks won points in the paint 44-24 and got to the free-throw line 33 times to 18. “We got 44 points inside, that’s very, very impressive there’s no doubt about that,” Beveridge said. “We want to be a well-rounded team, and I believe we’ve addressed our issues of physicality and size and interior scoring.” Despite these impressive numbers, Beveridge was not completely impressed, and sounded the horn for some urgent defensive work at training before taking on talented Kings like Kevin Lisch and Newley. “We’re trying to teach our players that the way we put points on the board is through our defence, so I challenged them at half-time, we gave up 34 points in the second quarter and it was horrible,” he said. “There’s no way we’ll be getting ahead of ourselves. We showed a big weakness in that second quarter and we’ll show the players how poor we were at containing, we’ve got to get better at that.” Cruise control The reality is though, with Illawarra’s offence clicking it is Gaze and the Kings who will be searching for defensive answers in the lead-up to Thursday, and if they can’t slow the runaway Hawks via the glass they’ll need to try something else. “They’ve been winning playing a free-flowing, attractive style of play seemingly carefree and that is hard to stop,” Gaze said. “Tempo is important, we’re going to have to use our offence to control the tempo because they're flying that thing down the floor and everyone’s got a green light to shoot and right now everyone’s making it.” Indeed, Illawarra shot a sizzling 16-of-33 form the arc in Round 1 with seven Hawks nailing a triple, dished out a 40-minute record 36 assists with nine players recording multiple dimes and turned the ball over just 11 times in more than 90 possessions, 10 players having one or fewer miscues. Rotnei Clarke signalled his NBL return with 23 points on five trifectas, six assists and just one turnover, while Marvelle Harris had 21 points, seven dimes and three steals in an emphatic debut game. Beveridge wants more of the same offensive gusto on Thursday, but reminds his players their success always starts at the defensive end. “They came out and put a show on in the second half, particularly defensively, which allows us to run, allows us to shoot, allows the freedom,” he said. “It’s almost like a tsunami, you know it’s coming but how do you stop it?” And though the Kings will have their backs to the wall – the likes of Jason Cadee, Tom Garlepp, Aleks Maric and Michael Bryson well below their best last Saturday – Beveridge says their little brother to the south has all the motivation they need too. “It’s the old David and Goliath story, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “We are nowhere in the ballpark of the Sydney Kings or those well-resourced teams, so we’ve got this circled, we’re going after it for the region we represent and what we stand for.”
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