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Hawks thrash Wildcats, Crocs still winless

By Chris Pike
4 November 2012 07:01PM EST

THE Wollongong Hawks stunned the Perth Wildcats on Sunday to remain the only undefeated team in the NBL while Chris Anstey recorded his first win as coach of the Melbourne Tigers.

Wollongong was on fire in the opening quarter on Sunday at the WIN Entertainment Centre piling on 38 points to set up its eventual 100-67 over the previously also unbeaten Wildcats.

The Adelaide 36ers earlier in the day held on to beat the Sydney Kings 88-81 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre while Melbourne prevailed in the battle of the winless teams downing the now 0-7 Townsville Crocodiles 91-66 at Hisense Arena.

The results on Sunday to finish Round 5 of the NBL season sees Wollongong (5-0) now alone undefeated on top of the ladder ahead of the New Zealand Breakers (4-1), Perth (3-1) and Adelaide (3-2).

Just outside the top-four is the Cairns Taipans (3-3) followed by Sydney (3-4), Melbourne (1-4) and Townsville (0-7).

Sydney started strongly in its second game of the weekend after losing a thriller to New Zealand on Friday and led by as much as 12 points in the first half, but the 36ers got going in the second period to lead by a point at half-time.

Adelaide then came out strongly after the main break and opened up an advantage as big as 13, but the Kings wouldn’t go away and still made a good game of it. However, the Sixers did enough to hold on for the seven-point win for their first road win of the season.

Adelaide's seven-foot centre Luke Schenscher top-scored for the 36ers with 18 points and five rebounds with Jason Cadee adding 15 points, Stephen Weigh 14 and Adam Gibson 11.

Sixers coach Marty Clarke was pleased with his team's ability to remain confident and calm at both ends of the floor.

"As a coach, you want your players to feel confident enough to take big shots and the guys did a great job," Clarke said.

"And to get the mix between staying calm defensively and feeling good offensively is the hard bit, but we managed to do that."

Ben Madgen continued his outstanding start to the season for the Kings with another 20 points with Aaron Bruce adding 15, Darnell Lazare 14 and Ian Crosswhite 10 to go with the centre's seven rebounds.

Melbourne and Townsville entered the game at Hisense Arena looking to get a first win up after disappointing starts to their seasons, but virtually from the outset the Tigers took control of the contest and cruised to the 91-66 thrashing of the dismal Crocs.

Adelaide recruit Adam Ballinger showed that despite his injury troubles of the last two seasons he can still be a big factor by top-scoring for the Tigers with 23 points and seven rebounds.

Chris Goulding added 15 points, Lucas Walker 12 and Seth Scott 12 to go with nine boards as the Tigers earned their first win under new coach Anstey.

"For me it felt the same as my first win as a player did," Anstey said.

"I'm just the one trying to put a system into place and this is a nice start, but we definitely think there’s another level to go to there."

Townsville's season continues to spiral out of control, though, with another disappointing showing.

The signs weren’t good coming into the season with imports Curtis Withers and Jason Forte let go on the eve of the campaign with Gary Ervin and Larry Abney coming in for Round 2.

Things have only got worse with Sunday's loss to Melbourne the Crocs' worst performance so far. Peter Crawford top-scored with 15 points with Todd Blanchfield adding 14 and Abney 10.

Wollongong was on fire at home to Perth in the first quarter piling on 38 points to lead at quarter-time by 19.

Even though the Wildcats had done well to beat New Zealand, Townsville and Melbourne on the road to start their season, they had no answers to the Hawks with the home team never headed after that blistering start to run out massive 33-point winners.

Wollongong's two import guards were once again outstanding getting the better of heralded Wildcats defenders Damian Martin and Brad Robbins.

Adris Deleon finished with 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, 3-of-5 from three-point territory and 7-of-7 from the foul line. Lance Hurdle added 13 points as well including two threes.

Oscar Forman scored 21 points as well for Wollongong with Larry Davidson adding 13 to go with his eight rebounds, Glen Saville 10 and Rhys Martin 10.

It was a tough afternoon for the Wildcats with big man Matt Knight leading the way with 18 points and six rebounds while Jesse Wagstaff added 12 points, Shawn Redhage nine and Jeremiah Trueman eight.

Wollongong veteran Saville was playing his 550th game in the NBL and was delighted afterwards to get such a convincing win over the championship favourites.

"To tell you the truth I don’t think our training sessions were that crash hot in the build-up knowing the team we were playing, but we just brought it together at the right time on the night," Saville said.

"We definitely shot the ball really well and were well organised in how we were going to play them at the defensive end. We were able to hold them to 67 points and that's what we try to hold teams to, but to get 100 ourselves is a bonus.

"They are still 3-1 so they are definitely a team to look out for this season, but they just had a tough night with us with the way we were shooting the ball. We really fed off our crowd."

Next weekend's Round 6 action begins on Friday with Melbourne hosting Adelaide with Sydney also taking on Wollongong and Townsville with a big ask to record its first win at home to New Zealand.

Cairns then also hosts the Breakers on Saturday night before Adelaide plays Perth at the Adelaide Arena on Sunday.

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