Airs coach says team prepared

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

Taranaki v Hawks

NBL basketball

Having had a look at some footage on the Hawks, Dave Bublitz isn't fazed.

"It seems to me it's the way he [Hawks coach Tab Baldwin] wants to defend so we just have to be prepared for different scenarios and not panic," the Taranaki Mountain Airs coach says before the 7pm tip-off today in New Plymouth.

"I haven't sort of sat up to say, 'Oh my gosh, I won't be able to cope'.

"Paulie [Henare] does it, the New Zealand Breakers do that and [Wellington Saints coach] Pero [Cameron] can do it at times," Bublitz says of Baldwin's Northern Hemisphere-style, full-court speed-and-pressure game.

Tonight's hosts are seeking their first win of the Bartercard National Basketball League after three losses.

While the two matches against the Saints were tough Bublitz laments blowing a 20-point lead to lose the last round to the Nelson Giants after ex-Hawk import Josh Pace piled it on for the winners with 28 points as the visitors pipped the Mountain Airs 91-90 on the way to beating the Waikato Pistons 93-78 the previous night.

"Josh played some tough shots over our big guys and we didn't do a good enough job to shut him down so it was our fault they got back into the game," he said of Pace, who contributed 23 points against Waikato and won an NBL title with the Giants in his maiden season.

Taranaki, who like the Hawks have a blend of youth and veterans and just missed out on the playoffs last year, believe for them to win a lot of things have to go their way.

Their imports, Jack Leasure and Kenny Gabriel, 23, need to fire in tandem after both of them have succumbed to foul trouble at pivotal times in different games.

"We need to get all our ducks in a row, then we can win."

Bublitz says they took heart from their defence against the Giants in the first half.

He's mindful Baldwin has a history of "changing things up in defence" and not letting the offence settle.

"We have to respect Tab for what he's done in the past."

Bublitz doesn't feel the Hawks' game plan poses anything different but it'll simply be a case of how well they'll execute Baldwin's systems at the TSB Stadium tonight.

"When both teams are equal then that sort of stuff [speed-pressure game] should play some part."

Bublitz has been struggling to get the balance right with Taranaki who have twenty-somethings in new import Gabriel, Brad Anderson and Ethan Rusbatch on one end and veterans Link Abrams and Aaron Bailey-Nowell on the other.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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