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Perth Wildcats vs Illawarra Hawks
2017/18 NBL Season, October 13, 2017
|Perth Arena, Perth, WA|
|Perth Wildcats||Illawarra Hawks|
The Illawarra Hawks will be out to turn around a heartbreaking first-up loss, but it won’t get any easier in a grand final rematch with the Perth Wildcats away from home. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 9:30pm (AEDT).
The Wildcats, gunning for their third straight championship got the title defence off to a sound start last weekend with a heavy win over the Brisbane Bullets.
Perth are always a strong side on their home court, and they didn’t disappoint in front of a record home crowd. Opening their season with some conjecture over imports, they came away with a ten-point win.
What the scoreboard doesn’t tell is their dominance. At times, they were much further ahead and the game was all but over halfway through the final quarter. Winning from behind for a road team at the Perth Arena is close to the toughest task in the NBL.
Illawarra’s last visit to the colluseum in the west was less than impressive. They were thumped in Game 3 of the grand final series by a Bryce Cotton-led Perth, going out in straight sets and will have revenge on the mind.
Of course, stopping Cotton is going to be more than just half the battle for the Hawks. He had 24 points on 7 of 15 shooting last week, including an impressive five from eight behind the arc.
The Hawks answer to Cotton is undoubtedly Rotnei Clarke. The scoring guard is back for another season in Wollongong, and was part of the solution last year. After a slow start, he came off the bench, and even though the Hawks didn’t get a win last week, he was brilliant when he came on.
Rob Beveridge’s men went down by just a single point to the Cairns Taipans away from home last weekend, but there were plenty of positives to take from the contest.
While Clarke led the way with 26 points including eight three’s, AJ Ogilvy was brilliant in the paint. The stalwart has been in good pre-season form and will be key to the Hawks chances.
On top of that though, and probably of more relief for Beveridge was the performance of new imports Demitrius Conger and Delvon Johnson.
If the Hawks can dominate the paint, then they have a better than average chance here. Stopping Damian Martin’s creativity, overcoming the defence and slowing down the ever-improving Angus Brandt will be easier said than done though.
It’s impossible to back against the Wildcats when they are playing at home, but this might be closer than a lot of people tend to think.
It wouldn’t even be a surprise to get some overtime.
Wildcats by 5.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this grand final rematch from 9:30pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.