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R10 Preview: Illawarra v Cairns

Who: Illawarra Hawks v Cairns Taipans When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Wednesday 9 December Where: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Illawarra 96 (Ogilvy 36, Penney 17, Lisch 16) d Cairns 88 (Starks 20, Craig 17), Round 5, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong THE MATCH-UP Oscar Forman v Mark Worthington – Opposition teams have been ruthlessly targeting Forman defensively to take his threat from the arc out of the game. With Wortho shooting 51 per cent the past four weeks – including 7-of-15 from long range – expect more of the same from the Taipans. THE STATS In their Round 1 loss in Cairns, Illawarra scored just 38 points from two-pointers and free throws compared to the Taipans’ 55. In their Round 5 reversal, the Hawks upped that to 69 points to Cairns’ 73. Illawarra and the Taipans rank last and third last respectively in two-point field goal percentage allowed at 53 and 51 per cent respectively. THE STORY If Cairns Taipans supporters found watching last Wednesday’s capitulation in Townsville difficult, they should spare a thought for captain Cam Gliddon. “This is our lives, and when you lose and you don’t perform it really gets to you,” he said after getting redemption against the Kings. “If as players it doesn’t hurt you, you shouldn’t be playing the game.” His sentiments were similar after the Taipans allowed Illawarra to score an incredible 40 points in the third quarter of their Round 5 clash, turning a six-point half-time deficit into a 19-point lead. The Hawks nailed 6-of-7 triples in that match-winning third term, something that didn’t sit right with Gliddon “It’s disheartening, our effort wasn’t there,” he said. “If they're shooting that well and we’re doing all the right things then we’ll congratulate them, but when we’re not doing the right things and not disciplined we pay for it, and we paid for it pretty bad.” Their effort was certainly missing against the Crocs, beaten badly on the boards, but against Sydney two nights later Gliddon gave his teammates a clear message. “I told the boys, ‘When we get (back) to the locker room we’d better all be proud of our efforts,” he revealed. Matt Burston and Torrey Craig led the response, nabbing 15 boards and six steals between them as Cairns secured 14 more possessions than the Kings and six Taipans grabbed multiple offensive rebounds. “It’s about the possession game, we grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and forced 20 turnovers, that’s some good stuff there,” coach Aaron Fearne said. While the possession count is particularly crucial against any high-paced Rob Beveridge team, expect Illawarra to also test the Taipans’ interior D. In Round 5, Hawks freight train AJ Ogilvy shot 16 two-point field goals and 14 free throws, opening the way offensively for triples and drives from Kevin Lisch and Kirk Penney, and defensively for Beveridge’s pressure schemes to disrupt the Taipans. “A massive part of the game plan is to get to the free-throw line, that allows us to set up our defensive system,” the Hawks boss said. “We’ve got lots of things we can do, full-court pressure, half-court traps, zones. It actually gives us time to do that, so getting free throws is so important.” THE WRAP Cairns will have a tough time guarding Illawarra’s ball-screen action, with Penney, Lisch and Tim Coenraad ready to fire and Ogilvy ever-present rolling to the hoop. However, the Taipans will know that making the Hawks play long defensive possessions is the key to getting the game on their terms. The Hawks have forced an impressive 54 turnovers in the past three games as their disruptive schemes have taken root, so the ability of Gliddon, Markel Starks and Shaun Bruce to absorb that pressure, get the Taipans into offence and then isolate defenders late in the shot clock will be a big factor.
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