NBL 2014/15 Round 7 Preview: Sputtering Snakes to host lowly Hawks in crucial clash

Cairns Taipans vs. Wollongong Hawks

Saturday, 22nd November – 7.30pm (local time)

Cairns Convention Centre

Odds: Cairns $1.22, Wollongong $4.25

Tickets: Click here

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Cairns will host Wollongong in search of a win to settle into the top two, while the Hawks will be in desperate need of a win themselves after nine straight losses since opening night.

The Taipans have stuttered after a flawless 6-0 start to the season, losing their past three matches to Melbourne, New Zealand and Sydney, and will be out to arrest their slide with a strong showing against the struggling Hawks. Scottie Wilbekin, who set the league alight over the first month of the season, has fallen away of late but showed signs against the Kings teo days ago. He will be looking to put in a big performance against a side who has struggled to contain opposition guards all season.

Wollongong are dead last after six rounds with a measly 1-9 record following nine straight defeats, with their sole win coming against Townsville in the NBL season opener. Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin, who were touted by many pre-season as the most prolific guard combo in the league, have been far too inconsistent and, aside from some flashy showings at stages, are still yet to deliver on their talent so far in 2014/15.

Key Player

Gary Ervin

Ervin is a proven performer in the NBL and everyone is aware of what the former league MVP is capable of. Given his side has a solitary win to his name it would suggest that he, as a leader of his side, simply isn’t doing enough right now. He has battled niggling injuries and is certainly not alone in being too passive, but when looking through the Hawks’ roster it is Ervin’s name that instantly stands out as the star player, which would imply that he must step up and lead by example. Ervin is a match-winner when fit and firing, and for Wollongong’s sake they will be hoping their star guard can overcome the back niggles and find form against the Snakes.

What To Watch For

Lights-out scorers at both ends of the floor

While the Hawks, and the Taipans of late, have struggled offensively, both teams are stacked with capable scorers. Ervin, Carson, Oscar Forman and Brad Hill are all capable of piling points on the board for Wollongong, while Wilbekin, Stephen Weigh, Alex Loughton, Cam Gliddon, Torrey Craig and Cam Tragardh have proven their offensive ability for Cairns. If both sides can break out of their current funk, the scoring talent at either end could see a high-scoring affair.

Final Word

There is no question that the Hawks are the more desperate of these sides right now, looking to avoid a 10th straight loss. Their season is almost over, with another fairytale run ala 2013/14 needed if they are any chance of sneaking into the hotly contested playoffs picture. Wilbekin needs to stand up if the Snakes are to win, while Wollongong desperately needs Ervin or Carson, or both for that matter, to turn in huge performances. Unfortunately for the Hawks, a trip to Cairns should prove too big of a mountain for them to climb.

Cairns by 11