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NBL 2014/15 Round 2 Preview: Star guards to clash in Wollongong
Wollongong Hawks vs. Cairns Taipans
Sunday, 19th October – 4.00pm (local time)
WIN Entertainment Centre
Tickets: Click here
Odds: Wollongong $1.75, Cairns $2.10
Both teams started their season strongly in round one, with Wollongong splitting their weekend after a tough loss to the Kings in Sydney and Cairns chalking impressive victories away to both Adelaide and Melbourne.
The Hawks flew home in Townsville off the back of Jahii Carson, who had been average at best through three quarters before exploding for 14 points in the last ten minutes to win the game for his side. The form of Tim Coenraad was also great news for the undersized Hawks, and he will be looking to continue his good early season form into the second week of the competition.
Cairns are the early season team to beat after demolishing Melbourne in their own gym, but won’t be getting carried away despite the electrifying debut performances of Scottie Wilbekin. Alex Loughton was also in good touch from the perimeter across the weekend and will be a threat to the already small Hawks interior defence if they get drawn out to the three-point line.
Cameron Gliddon #457092982 / gettyimages.com The Hawks boast two of the most exciting combo guards in the league in Gary Ervin and Carson, while Cairns’ star Wilbekin will perhaps be one of the best guards in the league by season’s end. The forgotten man is Gliddon, who in his third NBL season is ready to take the next step. His round one performance in Adelaide was super impressive before a much quieter outing in Melbourne as teammate Wilbekin did it all. If Gliddon can win his battle with either Ervin or Carson, and it’s likely Wilbekin will do the same with the other, it will go a long way to securing another victory for the high-flying Taipans.
What To Watch For
Electrifying imports at both ends
Both sides boast two athletic and exciting imports, and between Carson and Ervin for Wollongong and Wilbekin and Torrey Craig for the Taipans there is sure to be plenty to watch for. We all know what the guards are capable of, but Craig, despite coming off the bench in both round one matches, set the Sixers alight with a combination of dead-eye perimeter shooting and athletic inside shooting that went largely unnoticed after his fellow American stole the show for the weekend. Regardless of the result, these four players are worth the price of admission alone.
Both sides were impressive in round one, but the visitors were more so. The Hawks played one quarter of quality basketball against Townsville and got the win, but were much better for longer against the Kings and lost. The Snakes have now got targets on their backs after their eye-catching double in round one, and will take plenty of beating, but their reliance on the outside jump shot is slightly worrying, even with the shooting talent they possess. If the Snakes stay hot, they should get the win and continue their hot early season form, but the Hawks at home may just find enough to sneak over the line in a close and high quality contest.
Wollongong by 2