Casey Prather of the Perth Wildcats.
Casey Prather of the Perth Wildcats. TONY MCDONOUGH

Hawks will start underdogs in finals series, says coach

BASKETBALL: Rob Beveridge concedes the Perth Wildcats are favourites to defend their NBL title but says his Illawarra Hawks will fight tooth and nail in the best-of-five finals series beginning in Perth tomorrow.

Beveridge, who coached the Wildcats to the 2010 title, said his side would start as underdogs despite defeating minor premier Adelaide 106-98 on the road to seal a 2-1 semi-final series success on Thursday night.

"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 to 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 home-court 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."

Beveridge said the Hawks' medical team would work hard to get star centre AJ Ogilvy on court for the series opener after he injured his left ankle against the 36ers.

"He did it (in the first quarter) and went out, then did it a second time (in the second quarter)," he said.

"We'll put him straight on the ice and do our absolute best to get him back on the court."