Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge believes defending champions Perth Wildcats will start favourites in the upcoming best-of-five NBL grand final series but has promised the Hawks will give their heart and soul.
Thursday’s stirring 106-98 away triumph in the semi-final series decider against the Adelaide 36ers catapulted Illawarra into their first grand final in seven years, which Beveridge acknowledges his side will start as underdogs against the loaded Wildcats when the series starts on Sunday.
“They (Perth) are playing with a really good swagger, particularly with Bryce Cotton and Casey Prather back to scoring 40-50 points between them,” said Beveridge, who coached the Wildcats to the 2010 NBL title.
“We’ve got to try find a way of trying to slow that.
“They’ve got a bunch of veterans … players in that team who have won several championships.
“There’s Damian Martin, Matty Knight, Greg Hire, Shawn Redhage … it goes on and on.
“They’re feeling pretty good about themselves now (and) they’ve got homecourt advantage.
“We were 2-2 (head-to-head) during the season. We’ve had some pretty good dogfights against them.
“They will be going in as favourites, (but) you’ll get nothing but heart and soul from our team – that’s what epitomises our club.”
The only sour note for the Hawks in their win over the top-seeded Sixers was a left ankle injury sustained by centre AJ Ogilvy, who is in doubt for Sunday’s opening clash at Perth Arena.
“He did it (in the first quarter) and went out, then did it a second time (in the second quarter),” Beveridge said.
“We’ll put him straight on the ice and do our absolute best to get him back on the court.”