Basketball: Rangers import will test Hawks' defence

By Anendra Singh

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Tab Baldwin (centre) says there'll be no "emotional let-down" tonight against Waitakere Rangers.
Tab Baldwin (centre) says there'll be no "emotional let-down" tonight against Waitakere Rangers.

The last time they played - in Hawke's Bay on April 18 - it was a difference of 18 points in favour of the hosts.

Today, there are other differences that'll help the cause of the James Blond Super City Rangers when they tip off at 7pm against IMS Payroll Hawks in Auckland.

You don't have to be a mathematical genius to work out throwing in a pedigree player such as Jason Cadee can easily cancel that deficit.

"Jason who?" you may well ask before the round 10 Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) at the Waitakere Trust Stadium.

Cadee, the Australian import Rangers coach Aik Ho has signed up at the expense of American Eric Devendorf, is the talented son of the "first family of basketball in Sydney" - Debbie and Robbie Cadee, who have represented Australia as an Opal and Boomer, respectively.

Ho stuck to last season's ritual of not returning phone calls but enough said of the 23-year-old point guard who scored 34 points and had four assists in the hosts' 96-93 loss to Oceana Gold Nuggets in the last round in Auckland.

"Cadee's had a great start to their season and he's averaging 27 points from 6-7 seven games," Hawks coach Tab Baldwin says before the Hawks caught their flight yesterday morning.

"He's a good point guard and an explosive scorer. He shoots very well and takes the ball to the hole," Baldwin says of Cadee who just signed a contract to play for the Sydney Kings in the 2014-15 ANBL campaign.

Not only will Cadee boost the Rangers' score but he'll also test the Hawks defence, the best in the NBL as the Paora Winitana-captained visitors relish a purple patch of just two defeats this winter.

The table-topping Hawks are on track to become the minor premier champions with both losses inflicted on the road in overtime to the Pacific Jewellers Saints and Otago Nuggets.

They are "seven and oh" at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, but the initiated will tell you it's how Winitana's men will take the hits away that'll best test their mettle for the Final Four play-offs in Wellington early next month.

The Hawks have won just one NBL crown - in 2006 under Australian coach Shawn Dennis although Winitana was among those who snipped the net off the rim in Auckland.

Yesterday, the Hawks relaxed after a video session and training, watching game one of the NBA grand final.

US import Kareem Johnson must have felt ostracised backing the Miami Heat because, according to Baldwin, most of the squad had put the smart money on the San Antonio Spurs.

"Most of us were for the OKC [Oklahoma City Thunder] when Steven Adams was in but now we're just watching out for some quality basketball."

No doubt Baldwin will be hoping some of the moves from Hoop Heaven will brush off on his troops through to the play-offs.

Tonight is the first hurdle so he's wary of the mindset teams such as the Rangers can bring to the court.

Winning five out of their last seven matches, Waitakere will also have the in-your-face presence of Dillon Boucher, a former Tall Black and NZ Breaker.

"Dillon's a threat and can have a major impact on any game."

Mindful of the psychological warfare at stake, the Hawks will brace themselves for a side who can assume the mantle of spoilers.

"We can't have ... an emotional let-down," Baldwin declares, reflecting on how he served a match suspension there last season after he was ejected from the Taranaki game for venting his spleen on referees.

This season, the Hawks' stable aim to uphold the NBL protocol on officials and discipline in the march to NBL glory.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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