Hungry Jack's NBL
Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks Game Preview
Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks When: 9.30pm (AEDT), Friday 21 October Where: Perth Arena Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sport NZ Hoodoo hunting Four times Rob Beveridge has taken Illawarra back to his old stomping ground in the west and four times they have fallen, by a collective total of 79 points. Of course, the last time the Hawks triumphed in Perth was more than a decade ago, so it can hardly be described as Bevo’s curse, but it’s a hoodoo the team will want to break Friday night when the teams meet at Perth Arena without their coach who will be attending his son's graduation. While the final margin may not suggest it, Illawarra came within touching distance of a mighty upset in Game 1 of last year’s semi-final, beating the Wildcats in the rebounding battle for the first time all year with AJ Ogilvy a force and eight other Hawks pulling in multiple boards. They repeated the dose in Game 2 and skinned the ‘Cats alive, making it no surprise when Beveridge retooled in the off-season with board-hungry players like Marvelle Harris, Nick Kay and Michael Holyfield.
And 1 action for @cprather24 off the nice AB assist #NBL17 #yourgame pic.twitter.com/V3sgTuoA0l — NBL (@NBL) October 14, 2016They’ve also got an underrated guard making critical plays in Jarrod Kenny, who stepped up to the mark again last Friday against the Breakers. “He hit that big three in the corner. We joke around that it’s Kenny’s corner, he loves that position,” Gleeson said. While Kenny hit some big shots last season, he is playing a far more prominent role this year and being rewarded with extra minutes. “I love his confidence out there. He plays against Damo every day and he beats Damo to the rim, so we said why not do it under the bright lights,” Gleeson said. “Damo came back after the first eight games (last season) and he went to the back seat and we said no, you’re a better player than that, let’s be aggressive … now it’s just to be consistent.” That’s Gleeson’s message for his entire squad, well aware the slip-ups they had against the Breakers could cost them a pile of points against a high-octane team like Illawarra. “In a couple of games we’ve had teams in a position where we could … make it really hard for them to come back and we just relax,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure when we’re in front like that we’ve got the foot on the gas and we’re not letting the other team back in because the talent in this league’s too good to do that.”