Points — not just the numerical ones the Hawks left on the court at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, or the five the Southland Sharks couldn't muster to bridge the gap to take the game into extra time in Napier tonight.

No, it is also the points pertaining to myriad conclusions coaches Zico Coronel and Judd Flavell would have reached from the round 12 National Basketball League encounter which the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise team won, 102-97, despite throwing away the final quarter, 22-30.

With the Final Four semifinal contenders established, albeit not set in concrete, both sides were going to ask pertinent questions well before catching their flights to Christchurch next month.

For instance, why is it the Hawks can match it with the Sharks but not the Wellington Saints who also have a couple of big men in their ranks?

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How come captain Jarrod Kenny and his men came out firing with multiple sharpshooters from the tip off against Southland but not against the table toppers in their first loss this winter in Napier the previous Saturday?

Did the Hawks look more frisky tonight than in their 99-74 loss at the PG Arena in Taradale?

Of course, another appraisal against the Canterbury Rams, who have put the Hawks to the sword, is two games away but there is no harm in putting Coronel's campaigners in the witness box for some cross examination now.

Perhaps the best valuation will come from Kyle Singler, 31, the elder brother of EJ Singler who was a spectator.

But American import small forward EJ Singler was straight on Jamie Beleski's physiotherapy table in the changing room after an uncharacteristic 12 points in almost 40 minutes of play.

The 28-year-old small forward from Medford, Oregon, has been in sublime form with numerous double-doubles to feature in the MVP race although he plays down individual gains for collective ones.

"We knew the battle coming into this game," said fellow US import Brandon Bowman, after scoring a match-high 30 points and collecting 16 rebounds, 15 defensively, as well as drawing six fouls.

"This team is big, physical and they crash the boards," said power forward Bowman who took some solid gold hits from the Sharks bigs who weren't shy to pull out the knuckle dusters when push came to shove.

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Hawks assistant coach Morgan Maskell had demanded "scratching and clawing" to lift the physicality stakes and the players certainly did.

Bowman epitomised that almost halfway into the third quarter when he scored a basket but succumbed heavily to the floor from the ensuing challenge.

He cussed, collected himself and gingerly walked back towards the halfway mark before the Hawks defended gallantly to relay the ball back to him. He dunked the ball, high-fived with the towel boys before serving the muted Sharks bench a verbal volley.

Hawks American import power forward Brandon Bowman receives endorsement from a towel boy after dunking on the Sharks at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport
Hawks American import power forward Brandon Bowman receives endorsement from a towel boy after dunking on the Sharks at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport

Is that the answer to wiping the smirk off the faces of the Saints?

Bowman said the Hawks also made some mistakes under pressure, which they would address in the next scrimmages.

"We need a little bit more concentration because, I think, we got a little bit complacent towards the end of the game and we can't let that happen, especially if we play them again."

For the record, the Hawks were rebounding a lot more although they could have been better offensively rather than hanging deep for the ensuing transitional counterattacks after coughing up possession.

All the talk was about Southland's Todd Blanchfield but the Hawks kept Aussie import on a leash for just 14 points although he was one rebound shy of a double-double.

Former Hawk swingman Hyrum Harris picked up the slack for the visitors, scoring 26 points and also emulated Blanchfield on the boards.

"We didn't want him to get too many open looks and, again, our defence helped out on him so much that he missed some open shots," Bowman said of Blanchfield.

"Hyrum played well for them tonight but I'd rather have a two than a three, for sure."

As expected, the first quarter came with all the frills with the hosts taking a 28-23 lead before going into the changing room with exactly the same score for a 56-46 lead.

The Southerners fought to a 24-21 third spell to trail 80-67 but the final fling was an end-to-end open affair as the hosts enticed the visitors on.

What a fuming Flavell said, just as he called timeout soon after the halfway mark in the spell, is not fit for publishing but Tall Black centre Alex Pledger didn't require an interpretation after Hawks swingman Dion Prewster had dropped a shot from the carpark to destroy a decent gulf of 93-87.

With a minute left on the clock and the Hawks leading 101-95, the Sharks still had a sniff but the Hawks ate up 30 seconds and a basket on the counter offered the Sharks a one-point defeat at the best.

It wasn't to be after Bowman dropped one out of two from the charity line.

Arguably, the Hawks threw away the last quarter comfortable in the knowledge they had done enough which somewhat skews the statistics.

Asked why not such a performance against the Saints, Bowman said just about the entire Hawks team, not just him, were battling influenza.

"Not too many people know but we probably had like three days off before the game against the Saints," he said.

Southland Sharks coach Judd Flavell reads the riot act to centre Alex Pledger in the third quarter at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport
Southland Sharks coach Judd Flavell reads the riot act to centre Alex Pledger in the third quarter at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport

So what are some points the Sharks take from here?

Flavell was disappointed with his men's first half but put that in context with a "very good" opposition.

"We slipped on a couple of things and we broke down on defences, coverages and executions so you can't do that against these top-four teams," he said, alluding to a couple of changes which bolstered their defence a bit more in the second half.

He lamented losing points from the foul line — 7-17 with the Hawks managing 8-15 — but he said Southland would build on their second half.

Flavell said the defending champions had the biggest stature in the NBL with Pledger, Thomas Vodanovich and Dominique Kelman-Poto spear heading a decent shift but the flat first half had ultimately put them on the back foot.

"I don't know if travel is a factor but it's not an excuse to not perform at our best so we were sleepy at the start."

Asked how they differed with Wellington, a grinning Flavell replied: "Five Tall Blacks."

On a serious note he felt the NBL favourites had chemistry concocted in the NBL but the Sharks would treat the playoffs at the Horncastle Arena on July 20-21 as one-off games.

Hawks 102 (Brandon Bowman 30pts, 16reb; Dion Prewster 21pts; Ethan Rusbatch 20pts; Jarrod Kenny 12pts, 5 asts, 5 reb; EJ Singler 12pts) Southland Sharks 97 (Hyrum Harris 26pts, 9 reb; Brandon Lucas 19pts, 7 reb; Todd Blanchfield 14pts, 9 reb; Dominique Kelman-Poto 13pts, 7 reb; Thomas Vodanovich 11pts).

Kyle Singler (front row, black cap) watches younger brother and Hawks US import small forward EJ Singler play against the Sharks at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport
Kyle Singler (front row, black cap) watches younger brother and Hawks US import small forward EJ Singler play against the Sharks at the PG Arena in Napier. Photo / Photosport