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Hawks were "sawft" says BevoTweet
ILLAWARRA Hawks have work to do on the boards (again) after coach Rob Beveridge declared the rebounding effort “soft” in an unflinching post-game analysis.
Perth Wildcats, as expected, yesterday seized Game 1 in the Best-of-5 Swisse Finals, winning 89-77 at The Jungle.
Chasing their eighth championship, the Wildcats set themselves up for success by sweeping Cairns Taipans 2-0 in the Semi Final, meaning there was no Friday “decider” to be played.
And when the Hawks KO’d regular season champion Adelaide on Thursday, they gifted the Wildcats with homecourt advantage to boot.
With Marvelle Harris missing and AJ Ogilvy hobbled by an ankle sprain, everything pointed to a Perth win. But Bevo was having none of it.
“We’re pretty beat up from playing that Adelaide series. We’ve got a few sore bodies out there,” he said. “Yep, our preparation was very poor, but that’s an excuse, and we want to get rid of all of that rubbish.
“We were soft.
“You simply can’t beat most teams, let alone the Wildcats, if you’re going to give up 17 offensive rebounds. And we only had three.
“As far as I’m concerned - in a grand final series - it’s unacceptable.
“It just wasn’t good enough. If we don’t rebound, we can’t win.”
Perth's star late import Bryce Cotton overcame a slow start as Illawarra pulled eight clear during the second period.
Cotton was scoreless at that point but wracked up 11 points in a six-minute outburst to see scores tied at halftime.
Fellow import Casey Prather (pictured below) again was strong, leading all scorers with 22, Cotton finishing with 18, as did veteran big-man Matt Knight.
Wildcats captain Damian Martin produced a spectacular block in the first period and again typically led from the defensive end.
Cody Ellis' 12 points led the Hawks who drew 11 apiece from Tim Coenraad, Rhys Martin and Rotnei Clarke.
Ogilvy played but had little impact and will be much more important in Game 2 on Wednesday at Wollongong's Sandpit.
Illawarra's strong start was negated somewhat by former Beveridge prodigy Knight, who had 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter - on 5-of-6 shooting - restricting the Hawks' lead to 26-21.
Cotton’s second quarter heroics inspired the Wildcats who stepped up in the third, ahead 68-62 with a period to play.
In front of his "home" West Australian crowd, Ellis (pictured below) worked hard to get the Hawks airborne again but this one was going to the home team.
SWISSE GRAND FINAL
Game 1: PERTH WILDCATS 89 (Prather 22, Knight, Cotton 18; Knight 11 rebs; Martin, Prather 5 assts) d ILLAWARRA HAWKS 77 (Ellis 12, Martin, Coenraad, Clarke 11; Ogilvy 6 rebs; Clarke 6 assts) at Perth Arena.
Perth leads Championship series 1-0
MATT ... KNIGHT