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R6 Preview: Illawarra v Perth

Who: Illawarra Hawks v Perth Wildcats When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Wednesday 11 November Where: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Perth 91 (Prather 18, Beal 17, Jawai 16) d Illawarra 62 (Penney 19, Weeks 15), Round 4, Perth Arena THE MATCH-UP AJ Ogilvy v Nate Jawai and Matt Knight Ogilvy and Jawai are two of the headline NBL returnees this season, while Knight has long been the benchmark big in the competition. The possession battle will be crucial on Wednesday and this trio will play a huge part in that. THE STATS In Perth’s five wins Jawai and Knight have combined for 28 assists. In losses Jawai has dished out two dimes in two games and Knight two in three defeats. Ogilvy has grabbed a mere three defensive rebounds in two games against Perth this season, compared to 6.7 d-boards per game against the rest of the league. THE STORY All of his basketball career AJ Ogilvy has threatened to be a force, with dominant performances against world class opponents, but consistency has eluded him at times. He looks like a different player this season though – averaging 19.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks – and Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge thinks there’s a good reason for that. “I think the biggest thing with AJ is he’s got his body right, he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in,” Beveridge said. “We’ve been doing so much work with him on his agility and mobility, developing his perimeter shot, so he’s becoming very difficult to defend, he can go off the dribble too.” There haven’t been too many off nights, but Ogilvy will be keen for redemption this Wednesday against Perth after two sup-par efforts in his much-hyped battle with Nate Jawai. Beveridge believes the return clash will be “an amazing match-up”, just as impressed with Jawai’s progress this season. “You’ve seen the change in his body shape over the past few months and the longer he’s here the better he’s going to get,” Beveridge said. “He’s such a dominant big guy and he kicked our butts. When he gets the ball that deep in the paint you can’t stop him, he’s too powerful.” Of course, the Wildcats are no one-man show inside, Matt Knight bullying Ogilvy and Co en route to 22 points and 10 boards in their Round 3 win in Wollongong. “He’s been the best power forward in the league, I think he’s been the reason Perth has won their games,” Beveridge said, knowing the importance of Oscar Forman dragging the burly Tasmanian out of the key. “Hopefully we’ll get Matty more on the perimeter, because inside he’s too good a defender.” THE WRAP Perth lead the offensive rebounding battle 28-14 in this season series and have forced 32 turnovers to 23. In their home loss to Perth, no Hawk grabbed more than two defensive rebounds, and with Ogilvy tied up inside by Jawai and Knight, some of his teammates must step up on the glass. Illawarra also can’t afford to repeat their 6-of-25 long-range shooting from the Round 4 loss in Perth, but most importantly they must defend the Wildcats’ bigs inside without leaving perimeter shooters wide open, having been punished by 17-of-33 outside shooting in two meetings they’d prefer to forget.
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