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R4 Preview: Perth v Illawarra

When Illawarra jet across the country to take on the Perth Wildcats, Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge and star signing Kevin Lisch will visit Perth Arena in enemy colours for the first time. Beveridge and Lisch, both joined Perth in 2009, and left together in 2013. The duo helped the Wildcats win the 2010 NBL Championship in their first year in Perth, before joining Illawarra this off-season. Crowd reactions often soften when a player or coach delivered the fans a championship in the past, but how the Red Army faithful welcome their old friends home remains to be seen. Illawarra have had a rough run against the Wildcats in recent times. The Hawks have a league worst head-to-head record against Perth, having won just one win of their last 14 meetings. Perth and Illawarra submitted an instant classic at the WIN Entertainment Centre last Sunday, combining to produce plenty of scoring and drama. Perth eventually prevailed 106-99 in a contest that was closer than the scoreline suggests. The Wildcats have made a habit of playing in particularly exciting games this season. Perth’s last three outings have all been thrillers, narrowly going down to Townsville and Melbourne on either side of their aesthetically pleasing Illawarra victory. Meanwhile the Hawks have been wildly entertaining all season, largely due to their prolific scoring. The newly signed three-headed monster of Kirk Penney, Kevin Lisch and Andrew Ogilvy has been eating defences alive, and Illawarra leads the League in scoring with a blistering 91 points per game. This matchup will present a clash of contrasting styles, and controlling the tempo will be key for both teams. Perth will look to slow the game down and exert its dominance with overwhelming size. Meanwhile, the Hawks – who are second in pace and first in three point percentage at 42.2 per cent - will look to increase the pace and get up as many shots as possible. Perth will need to contain Illawarra’s perimeter, which is littered with offensive weapons. Oscar Forman (54.8%) and Jarrad Weeks (57.1%) are shooting the three ball at a higher clip than anyone in the League, while Kirk Penney and Kevin Lisch are storied offensive destroyers. Working in Perth’s favour will be the return of reigning five-time defensive player of the year Damian Martin, who will be playing in his second game since returning from a calf injury. The Wildcats were missing Martin, the leader of Perth’s pack of defensive bulldogs, when they visited Illawarra last week. Catch the match LIVE on FOX SPORTS News 500 or via the NBL app from 9:30pm EDT.
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