Wildcats willing to grind it out against Hawks
The odds and statistics suggest Illawarra will find the task of beating the Wildcats in Perth tonight in game one of their NBL semi-final playoffs too tough.
With league MVP Kevin Lisch, veteran Kirk Penney and big man AJ Ogilvy back together after a leg injury interrupted Penney's back half of the season, the Hawks can be confident of returning to Wollongong with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
But, while Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said he had plenty of respect for the Hawks, he believed his players would produce the goods after reaching the NBL finals for a 30th straight year.
"We use that record as positive motivation," he told APN. "We use what those players before us have built up. We have a legacy to continue. Being a Wildcat you learn to play under pressure, and this team thrives under pressure."
Gleeson conceded his roster did not have any "superstars", but was "special".
"As a coach, what I love about this team is the different ways they can win a basketball game," he said.
"We can grind it out in a tough physical game; we can get up and down the court and throw up 110 points, or win it with 60.
"Normally you can be one-dimensional, or score a lot of points, but this team has a play-off mentality you need with a phenomenal will to win, which we've seen a few times this year."