Illawarra Mercury

IN THE PAINT

Author: with TIM KEEBLE
Date: 05/04/2005
Words: 607
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Sport
Page: 67
THE Wollongong Roller Hawks get their 2005 National Wheelchair Basketball League campaign under way this weekend in Brisbane.

Wollongong take on the Brisbane Spinning Bullets on Saturday night before both teams back up for Sunday afternoon's return.

"We're expecting to win both games but we were in the same situation last year and Brisbane beat us in both games," Roller Hawks captain Tristan Knowles said.

"They always play a very physical style and we don't expect this weekend to be any different. As long as we're ready for it and adapt quickly, we should come away with two wins. By the same token, if we're not on our game, anything can happen.

"Training has been very good and everyone is working really hard. We're looking forward to the weekend."

Knowles heaped praise on new Wollongong import Nick Taylor, a South African who played with Australian Rollers top gun Brad Ness at the University of Texas.

The Roller Hawks' other new faces are Australian team member and former Brisbane player Tige Simmons and New Zealander Travis Moffat.

"Under the league's player points system, the new guys give us more flexibility and depth with our rotation options," Knowles said.

"Nick Taylor will surprise everybody. He's got an awesome outside game. He shoots the lights out. He's tall for a point guard and he's got a big reach on him. He's going to be a star in this league."

The Roller Hawks are also on the road on Saturday week to Wentworthville Leagues Wheelkings before playing their first home game of the season on April 17 against defending champions West Sydney.

Knowles said the club is still in urgent need of sponsorship and called on Illawarra businesses to help in any way possible.

***

The unbeaten Illawarra Kittyhawks will be aiming to improve their Australian Basketball League record to 3-0 when they clash with Bankstown on the road on Saturday.

The Kittyhawks comfortably won their opening two games in the ABL's Waratah Conference before a weekend bye.

The Illawarra Seahawks are seeking back-to-back wins in the men's conference in their away duel with Bankstown, who are led by former Illawarra junior and NBL journeyman Terry Johnson.

***

The Wollongong Hawks are sticking hard and fast with the struggling St George Illawarra Dragons.

Wollongong chief executive Paul Young urged the community to do likewise.

"The Hawks are firmly in the Dragons' corner," Young said.

"I'll be there supporting them against Manly on Saturday night and hopefully everyone will come out in force to show we're behind our rugby league team.

"The spirit of this town shows through when our sporting teams really need it and I'm sure the Dragons will turn it around. They just need their supporters to keep the faith. The Hawks are behind them all the way."

***

Bruising forward Pero Cameron is rumoured to be on the outer with the New Zealand Breakers.

Incoming Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis has spoken with free agents Cameron, Ben Pepper and Dillon Boucher and told a New Zealand newspaper that "Cameron seems most likely to go elsewhere".

Despite being selected in the 2003 world championships all-star five, the 198cm, 120kg behemoth has been a flop in two injury-plagued NBL seasons.

***

The NBL will take the pre-season Blitz tournament back to Cairns in 2005-06.

NBL boss Rick Burton said the Taipans were the perfect hosts last season.

"We expect the Blitz to be bigger and better than ever," Burton said.

"Everyone who attended last season's Blitz was unanimous in their praise for the event. We're sure the Taipans will build on last season's success to make 2005 our best pre-season tournament."

 
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