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R8 Preview: Illawarra v Sydney

Who: Illawarra Hawks v Sydney Kings When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Wednesday 25 November Where: WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Illawarra 100 (Forman 24, Coenraad 18, Penney 16) d Sydney 86 (Khazzouh 21, Thornton 19, Cadee 16), Round 2, Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney THE MATCH-UP Tim Coenraad v Josh Childress – The AJ Ogilvy v Julian Khazzouh battle should be a beauty, but Childress will be itching to produce a match-winning performance on return. Coenraad can’t stop him, but if he can force Childress away from the basket it gives the Hawks’ help defence a chance. THE STATS Childress averaged 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals against the Hawks last season, while shooting 61 per cent from the field. Illawarra are conceding 54 per cent shooting from two-point range, worst in the league. On average opponents make 25 baskets from inside the arc, but in Round 2 the Hawks kept Sydney to 18 makes at 46 per cent. THE STORY Oscar Forman doesn’t mince words when asked about his Illawarra’s performance last week. “Right now our defence is non-existent and our rebounding is non-existent,” he said. Heading into Adelaide with four losses, but three of them hard-fought defeats to quality opponents, the Hawks couldn’t have seen what was to come. “The feeling amongst the guys was we played pretty hard, but when we looked at the tape it was completely different,” Forman said. “After the game I had a lot of friends and family members say it just looked like we didn’t show up with any intensity, but I said, ‘No no, we did’. “Then (Monday) in video I realised that was what it actually looked like. Then we watched video from one of our earlier games and it was just night and day with our intensity and our pick-up points.” There is no rest for the wicked, however, with the returning Josh Childress and the Kings rolling into the ‘Gong. Forman said “it was really a timely video session” post-Adelaide, because if they play the same individualistic defence against Childress, the All-NBA Rookie Second Teamer, All-Euroleague Second-Teamer, Greek A1 All-First Teamer and All-NBL First Teamer is sure to have a field day. “We can’t just leave someone on an island and let them deal (with Childress) for themselves. The strength of this group is everyone does help each other and everyone’s worrying about someone else,” he said. “He’s not a one-cover at all, you need to be sending some traps or sending help with everyone else ready to rotate.” Forman also said the Hawks need a five-man effort to extend their defence, which will both limit Childress and Julian Khazzouh receiving the ball in their preferred spots and create easy baskets at the other end. “We need to play a pressure-style defence, mix things up a bit but we need to be up the floor. With Adelaide we just ran back and let them walk the ball up the floor,” he said. Yet while Forman constantly spoke of team, he is all too aware Sydney may target him defensively, just as Anthony Petrie and the 36ers did, and he knows this is an individual battle he must be able to win. “There was no one more disappointed about that than myself, coming out and getting scored on the first three plays of the game,” he said. “That’s nothing new to me in my career, teams often try to get me into foul trouble and on the bench. I was ready for it, I was looking forward to that battle but I just didn’t show up to it.” THE WRAP While the Kings faded out against the Breakers in Round 7, they went blow-for-blow with the defending champs for three quarters. With Childress’ ability to rebound and trigger fast-break opportunities back on board the Kings will be confident of posting a winning score. Illawarra’s offence struggled last round because they took the ball out of the net too often, but expect a completely different defensive side this week. Key will be containing penetration better than recent weeks, because the Kings are capable of winning games from the arc when they create space for their shooters.
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