NBL 2013/14 Semi Final Preview: Perth Wildcats vs. Wollongong Hawks

The Perth Wildcats go into their semi-final series against the Wollongong Hawks as hot favourites in their quest to conquer the NBL for 2014. The Hawks on the other hand, would have to be the team of the competition as of late, with their amazing resurgence from the bottom of the table to grab the final playoff spot in their second last game of the season. The best team of the season against the in-form team of the competition; this series sure is a timely match-up in which both teams will have to be at full strength if they want a spot in the NBL Grand Final and fighting for the championship. Credit: Joel Armstrong |

Wollongong Hawks


Game Dates

Game 1: Friday March 28 @ Perth Arena, 6:30pm Local Time- Tickets: click here Game 2: Sunday March 30 @ Wollongong Entertainment Centre, 3:00pm Local Time- Tickets: click here Game 3 (if req): Tuesday April 1 @ Perth Arena, 6:15pm Local Time- Tickets: click here


Previous Meetings

R4: Perth Wildcats def Wollongong Hawks 87-47 @ Perth Arena R6: Perth Wildcats def Wollongong Hawks 89-76 @ Wollongong Entertainment Centre R12: Wollongong Hawks def Perth Wildcats 96-91 OT @ Wollongong Entertainment Centre R23: Perth Wildcats def Wollongong Hawks 86-65 @ Perth Arena


Key Match-ups

Damian Martin vs Rotnei Clarke We all know how much damage ‘the Rot’ can do; hence it is extremely important to this Perth team as to how the defence maestro in Martin can slow him down. Martin has done a great job this season allowing Clarke only 16.25ppg against the ‘Cats, despite averaging over 20 points throughout the season. Martin on the other hand can also do some of his own damage, making it pivotal for Clarke to be useful at both ends of the floor. Jermaine Beal vs Rhys Martin A silky shooter in Jermaine Beal is matched up against Rhys Martin who has had a breakout year which included his career high 32 points against the Adelaide 36ers just a month ago. ‘Dolla’ Beal is so dangerous from beyond the arc and Martin has to be weariful of his extended range. However, on the other end of the floor it is the exact opposite which Beal has to be careful of. Martin’s quick feet which explodes himself towards the basket is of real talent and Perth’s team defence in general must be ready to help out. Another high octane offensive match-up that can make or break this series. Jesse Wagstaff vs Oscar Forman In yet another offensive match-up, these two stretch fours provide key sparks to their respective outfits. Wagstaff has averaged 12.75ppg against the Hawks this year and needs to find his range early to have the focus then put on him which allows his teammates an extra layer of space. Forman averages the exact same as Wagstaff against the ‘Cats, however hits just under three triples a game. Wollongong are going to need three or even more of his long range bombs if they are to stand a chance against Perth’s great perimeter defence.


X-Factor

Shawn Redhage (Perth) It’s well and truly known that James Ennis is the Perth Wildcats’ best player. The Wollongong Hawks know that as well and therefore will make sure that they do everything possible to keep him quiet throughout the series. Redhage has been flying under the radar to end the NBL season as there has been little talk about his impact to the Wildcats, with names such as Beal, Martin and even Hire starting to pop up it was like Redhage’s early season form had gone missing. While Wollongong is certainly not his favourite opponent, Redhage can find ways to score the basketball against a variety of set defences, something that Wollongong will be changing throughout the course of this series. Kevin Tiggs (Wollongong) Tiggs has recently returned from knee surgery which was once thought to keep him out for the rest of the season. Fortunately for the Hawks, his recovery program blossomed and he turned out to be a vital piece to grab the final playoff spot. A high energy, high impact guy off the bench, Tiggs loves to use the ball when it’s in his hands. He should too, because he’s efficient at it. The Hawks can use his uniqueness and explosiveness to improve their second and third quarters when both team’s second units are in the game. Tiggs can be a fast paced player when needed, but is also a natural when it comes to half court sets.


Series Verdict

With the opening game from the season between these two teams still in the back of everyone’s minds, the fact that Wollongong only managed to put up 47 points is alarming. Yes, the Hawks have come a long way from there, but no one manages to come out of the Perth Arena smiling at a high rate. Wollongong must face the ‘Cats in Perth twice, a venue they failed to record a victory at. When the Hawks were riding everyone’s coattails in mid January as the Cinderella team of the league, they only just managed to pip the mediocre Wildcats at the time in overtime. While it may be a big ask, a home victory in Game 2 will send the Hawks fans home happy, while two competitive appearances should give them something to smile about too. Perth 2-0

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