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Hawks shine, Tigers and Crocs winless

By Chris Pike
28 October 2012 08:43PM EST

THE Wollongong Hawks have set up a battle of the undefeated NBL teams next Sunday against the Perth Wildcats, but the pressure is mounting on the winless Melbourne Tigers and Townsville Crocodiles.

Wollongong continued its unbeaten start to the 2012-13 NBL season on Sunday coming from behind to beat the Adelaide 36ers 77-63 at the Adelaide Arena on the back of some sparkling play from import point guard Adris Deleon (pictured).

The win moved the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 record remaining unbeaten alone with the Wildcats, who sit on 3-0 after a bye this weekend following three road victories waiting for the new Perth Arena to become available.

The Shane Heal-coached Sydney Kings were the other big improvers over the weekend winning both games in North Queensland against the Townsville Crocodiles and Cairns Taipans to improve to 3-2 on the season.

With the defending champion New Zealand Breakers also beating the Chris Anstey-coached Melbourne Tigers at Hisense Arena on Friday night, the pressure is mounting on the winless Melbourne and Townsville after four rounds.

Townsville slipped to an 0-5 record with Friday's 92-87 loss at home to Sydney. The Crocs axed imports Jason Forte and Curtis Withers on the eve of the season before signing replacements Gary Ervin and Larry Abney, both past stars of the league, but things have not clicked yet for the Crocodiles.

Anstey has taken over as coach of the Tigers this season and with a new-look line-up there was hope of an improved season, but despite some continued good form from big man import Seth Scott against New Zealand, Melbourne went down 75-64 to slip to 0-4 on the season.

At least one of the winless clubs will win next weekend, though, with Melbourne hosting Townsville on Sunday.

At the other end of the ladder, Wollongong and Perth will do battle for top spot at the WIN Entertainment Centre next Sunday in what is set to be an exciting battle.

Wollongong's import guards Deleon and Lance Hurdle have been instrumental in the Hawks' start to the season and again had a big say in Sunday's win over Adelaide with Deleon hitting 23 points to go with seven assists, and Hurdle scoring 16 points.

Up against the Wildcats, they will face the best defensive back court in the NBL led by Damian Martin and Brad Robbins, with that battle set to go a long way to deciding which club will remain unbeaten.

Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge has no doubt that the week off for his club after six straight weeks of travel, taking in three in the pre-season, was much-needed and he is looking forward to battling a Wollongong team next Sunday that he has enormous respect for.

"I've always said that I believe Wollongong is the best disciplined team in the league with the way they go about their business," Beveridge said.

"They play within their parameters and to me they set the benchmark in regard to discipline, and I tell our guys I want us to be like Wollongong from that perspective but to play with a bit more flair, and at a higher tempo. Combining both those facets of the game is difficult, but I love the way that Wollongong plays.

"They have probably been under the radar because people might have thought they didn’t do that well last year, but they have brought in two outstanding imports. Hurdle and Deleon are as good as you get, and fit into Gordie's system and he will mould them into something special.

"There's no doubt that they have a very good system in play and to add two quality imports makes them a top team for sure."

Round 5's other matches sees New Zealand (3-1) host Sydney (3-2) on Friday with Townsville (0-5) also taking on Cairns (2-3) before the Kings face the Adelaide 36ers (2-2) on Sunday as well as the Melbourne-Townsville, and Wollongong-Perth clashes.

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