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NBL Wollongong Hawks v Cairns Taipans Betting Preview – Saturday 19th March, 2011

Fri, Mar 18, 2:11pm by Kevin Pitstock

Current Ladder Positions:

Wollongong – 4th (14-12), Cairns – 5th (13-12)

Wollongong’s Last Five Games:

Round 22 – defeated Adelaide (87-60)
Round 22 – defeated Gold Coast (80-68)
Round 21 – defeated Townsville (87-77)
Round 20 – defeated New Zealand (104-81)
Round 19 – lost to Townsville (75-56)

Cairns’ Last Five Games:

Round 22 – defeated Melbourne (79-63)
Round 21 – lost to Perth (83-60)
Round 20 – lost to Sydney (76-75)
Round 19 – lost to Melbourne (70-63)
Round 19 – lost to Sydney (81-69)

Head-To-Head Encounters in 2011:

Round 8 – Cairns defeated Wollongong (80-62)
Round 16 – Cairns defeated Wollongong (97-86)

Key Players:

Larry Davidson is in the perfect form heading into the playoff series. The 28-year-old has averaged 10.2 points per game this season, but it has been his work off the glass that has impressed most. Davidson’s average of 8.2 rebounds per game in 2010/11 is the third best in the league. He narrowly missed out on a third consecutive double-double last week, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine boards. Davidson will be looking to get on top of Taipans big boy Ian Crosswhite at both ends of the court.

Ayinde Ubaka has been Cairns’ highest scorer throughout the 2010/11 season. The 26-year-old has averaged 14.1 points per game, including a 32-point performance against the Tigers in January. However Ubaka has struggled for consistency in recent months, reaching double figure points in just four of his past nine games. Ubaka will have to hit the scoreboard early, as well as keep opposite point guard Gary Ervin relatively quiet, in order to keep the Snakes’ finals aspirations alive.

Wollongong’s Possible Starting Five:

PG – Gary Ervin
SG – Matthew Campbell
SF – Glen Saville
PF – Oscar Forman
C – Larry Davidson

Cairns’ Possible Starting Five:

PG – Ayinde Ubaka
SG – Daniel Dillon
SF – Ronald Dorsey
PF – Alex Loughton
C – Ian Crosswhite

Who Wins?

This is about as sudden death as it gets for the Taipans. Lose this game and their playoff hopes are blown to smithereens.

Cairns looked destined for an early exit after away losses to Sydney and Melbourne, but bounced back with an important win against Melbourne last weekend. Perhaps the most impressive aspect about the victory over the Tigers was the fact it kept a team that relies so heavily on offense to 63 points.

Wollongong continues to go from strength to strength.  Opposition teams are struggling to contain a line-up that includes the likes of Ervin, Davidson and Oscar Forman. In fact the Hawks are probably playing at a higher standard than when they sat in first spot with a 9-2 record earlier in the season.

This is also a must win game for the Hawks as well. If they lose this, they only have one more match remaining in the home-and-away season, while Cairns have two.

With so much on the line, expect this game to carry plenty of intensity and emotion.

The matchups are mouth-watering: Crosswhite-Davidson, Ervin-Ubaka and Forman-Alex Loughton. These mini contests could very well decide the game.

If the game does depend on these matchups, the Hawks should win. Ervin is in outstanding form, while the duo of Forman and Davidson are hard to stop from a defensive viewpoint. Cairns will put up a fight, but expect the Hawks to run out winners with a supportive home crowd behind them.

Best Bet:

Wollongong line -6.5 ($1.91 – Centrebet)

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