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NBL 2014/15 Round 14 Preview: Breakers look for two in a row against Hawks
Wollongong Hawks (3-16) vs. New Zealand Breakers (15-5)
Sunday, January 11, 2:00pm (local)
TV: One HD 2:00pm (LIVE VIC & NSW)
Wollongong Entertainment Centre
Odds: Wollongong Hawks $2.75, New Zealand Breakers $1.45
After a close overtime match on Thursday night, both Wollongong and New Zealand will have the belief they can have a victory in their second match of the round.
The last placed Hawks will take on the ladder leading Breakers with some new found confidence after pushing them to an extra period in their recent match-up.
Heading back home will also factor in the minds of the Wollongong players, hoping the home court advantage may get them across the line in front of a home crowd who has not had many wins to cheer about this season.
The battle at the point guard position will be an exciting one for fans with the in form Gary Ervin taking on one of the leagues stars, Cedric Jackson. Both had incredible games on Thursday and the outcome of this match up could go a long way in deciding the game.
An even spread of points was the winning factor for the Breakers in Thursdays clash, Wollongong will look to shut down the scoring power of both Corey Webster and Thomas Abercrombie after they had 15 and 16 point games respectively on Thursday in New Zealand.
The matches between these two teams is great evidence on how even the league is, with first playing last on the ladder going into overtime earlier this week and this game set up to be another nail biter.
Ervin has been in some outstanding form over recent weeks and has been the Hawks leading scorer in their past four games.
For those who have watched any of Wollongong's recent games, they will know that Ervin is an amazingly talented offensive player. He has both an inside and outside game, getting to the ring with ease with an array of moves but also being a handy shooter from beyond the arc.
If Wollongong are to come as close as they did in their other round 14 clash with the Breakers, Ervin must step up and fire again. Going head to head with arguably the leagues best point guard Ervin must get his work done on both ends of the court.
New Zealand are a fantastic team and one player on their own cannot beat them. Ervin must get his teammates involved in the game by finding open shots for them, he will also look to control the tempo of the game to get New Zealand out of rhythm, which could prove to be a difficult task.
What To Watch For
Imports off the bench
Both teams use a strategy that not all agree with, having an import coming off the bench. So far, it has worked well for both teams.
Ekene Ibekwe has been a revelation since starting on the bench for the Breakers and is the clubhouse leader to take out the sixth man of the year award at season's end. The luxury of bringing an athletic, shot blocking centre who can also score is pivotal in the success of New Zealand. Look for Ibekwe to have a near double-double with a few blocks added.
Jahii Carson is the import point guard that comes off the bench for the home side, the Hawks. When he gets going, Carson is hard to stop. He has great speed which allows him to get to them rim and get out on fast breaks with the ball in hand. Carson will want to back up a great performance with him and Ervin being a force to be wary of.
Both players play large minutes for bench players and will have an impact on the game. They will not directly match up on each other but how these important bench players perform will have an effect on the outcome.
New Zealand are currently the team to beat in the competition while they sit on top of the NBL ladder. While Wollongong are having a year they would want to forget, this game might be closer than many think.
Wollongong's guards are in great form and will look to continue that at home, wanting to show that they are not a team that will lay down without a fight.
New Zealand have too much firepower on their roster with players capable of a big game across the court. Their bench has been on the rise recently too, Tai Wesley has had a couple of big games off the bench while he plays his role.
While the Hawks will fight it out to the final buzzer and make a tough game, the quality of a championship contending Breakers team will be once again too much for the Hawks.
New Zealand by 5