Thu, Mar 10, 10:52am by Kevin Pitstock
Current Ladder Positions:
Gold Coast – 6th (11-12), Wollongong – 5th (12-12)
Gold Coast’s Last Five Games:
Round 20 – defeated New Zealand (94-91)
Round 19 – lost to New Zealand (123-115)
Round 18 – defeated Adelaide (95-79)
Round 17 – defeated Perth (78-75)
Round 16 – defeated Sydney (94-91)
Wollongong’s Last Five Games:
Round 21 – defeated Townsville (87-77)
Round 20 – defeated New Zealand (104-81)
Round 19 – lost to Townsville (75-56)
Round 18 – defeated Perth (105-73)
Round 17 – lost to Melbourne (93-72)
Head-To-Head Encounters in 2011:
Round 1 – Wollongong defeated West Coast (83-77)
Round 11 – Gold Coast defeated Wollongong (72-70)
Round 13 – Gold Coast defeated Wollongong (87-86)
Athletic and mobile, Texas’ Ira Clark has been the Blaze’s best scorer this season. The 35-year-old has averaged 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Clark will have a tough assignment this Friday night as he lines-up against the versatile Larry Davidson. But if the Gold Coast centre can curb Davidson’s influence and get him into early foul trouble, the Blaze are already halfway to winning the game.
New York born point guard Gary Ervin has been fantastic for the Hawks during the 2010-11 NBL season. Despite his pass first mentality, the 27-year-old has dominated the stat sheet this year, averaging 20.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. Amazinlgy, Ervin has scored double figure points in all but one game. The Hawks desperately need him to produce another big game to keep their finals hopes alive.
Gold Coast’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Adam Gibson
SG – James Harvey
SF – Chris Goulding
PF – Stephen Hoare
C – Ira Clark
Wollongong’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Gary Ervine
SG – Matthew Campbell
SF – Glen Saville
PF – Oscar Forman
C – Larry Davidson
The playoffs may be a few rounds away still, but this match should be considered a mini final. Just one game and a little under two percent separates these two teams at the moment, however both of them will be keen to overtake Cairns in fourth spot to seal a spot in the playoffs.
Gold Coast had the bye last week, after a brilliant three-point win over New Zealand the week before, and will have fresh legs. The Blaze have been described as the best offensive unit in the league, even without star forward Matt Worthington.
Wollongong, on the other hand, are more known for their work at the defensive end of the court. The Hawks’ physical and sometimes unpredictable approach on defence make them an extremely difficult team to score against.
Ervin holds the key to the Hawks’ success. He will be tightly guarded by Gold Coast point guard Adam Gibson, who will try to throw Ervine off his game by using physicality.
Gold Coast needs to get off to a flying start and take the game away from Wollongong as early as possible. If it doesn’t, the Hawks will likely control possession and slow the tempo down to their preferred pace.
Both teams have been in reasonable form as well of late, with the Blaze winning four of their last five and the Hawks winning three if their last five.
But Gold Coast simply can’t afford to lose this game. If it loses and the Taipans win, the Blaze would be two games behind a playoffs position.
If Gibson can control Ervin and the team can make full use of their home court advantage, the Blaze should keep their finals aspirations alive.
Gold Coast Straight ($1.45 – Sports Alive)
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