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DrinkWise game preview - Round 17: Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks

24 Jan
3 mins read

Written By

Jordan McArdle

Alex Sarr will make his return from a hip injury in Thursday night’s Member Recognition Round clash against Illawarra at RAC Arena.

Sarr hasn’t played since sustaining the injury in the away win over Adelaide on December 28 and will be a welcome addition for Perth, hunting their seventh win on the trot.

It means head coach John Rillie will have a full squad at his disposal for the first time this year.

“It’ll be how he performs on the court. The good thing is he’s practiced for the last couple of days. His conditioning and acclimation back into the group has been very good,” Rillie said.

The Hawks are the only team the Wildcats haven’t beaten this season, suffering a shock loss at WIN Entertainment Centre on December 8, shortly after interim coach Justin Tatum took the reins.

Remarkably, Perth were also on a six-game winning streak last time they faced off against Illawarra, but produced what Rillie described as an “abysmal” opening term which saw them trail 38-18.

In-form Tai Webster didn’t play in that game due to illness.

Webster has amassed 20-plus points in two of his last three outings and is averaging 18.7 points, five assists and 1.7 steals during that time, while shooting at 68.6 per cent from the field and 41.7 per cent from the three-point arc.

“We’d won six in a row at that stage as well,” Rillie said.

“We were not ready. Our first quarter was abysmal and then we were just playing catch-up. That’s tough to do in any environment.

“One of our goals is to protect our home court. We’ve done a good job with that so far. Obviously with the defeat to them last time, there’s motivation and we should be ready to go.

“But as a coach, and the way we are playing, I’m a little nervous about our approach to it all. I don’t want us to get blasé about what we’ve been doing.”

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Game details

Who: Perth Wildcats vs Illawarra Hawks

When: 6.30pm WST Thursday 25 January

Where: RAC Arena

Watch: Live on ESPN via Kayo or Foxtel

 

Opposition watch

Illawarra have turned their season around in a big way under interim coach Justin Tatum.

The Hawks are now 9-12 and two wins out of the top-six as they eye a spot in the post-season.

They did however drop their last two games to Cairns and Adelaide respectively in a blow for their finals hopes.

Import Gary Clark is expected to make his return from a jarred knee sustained against Tassie in Round 15.

 

Last time they met

Illawarra stunned the competition with a 100-82 victory over Perth at home last month.

Gary Clark (17 points and 10 rebounds) starred with a double-double, with big man Sam Froling (21 points and six rebounds) also influential.

Jordan Usher was the Wildcats’ best with 17 points, with Cotton (seven points and seven assists) having a rare quiet night.

 

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