Giants 'made to look like All Stars'Save
By Anendra Singh
Just when fans thought the Hawks couldn't go any lower, they slumped to another inexplicable loss last night in Nelson.
The Taylor Corporation-sponsored franchise team succumbed 86-74 to Mike Pero Giants at Trafalgar Centre in their National Basketball League (NBL).
The hosts led 25-15 and 24-12 in the first two quarters before the visitors showed some ticker with a don't-argue 24-8 in the third quarter but the Giants did enough (29-23) in the last spell to claim victory against a side they had lost twice to in Napier this season.
A frustrated caretaker Hawks coach, Benny Hill, had impressed on his troops, minus co-skipper Jarrod Kenny attending a wedding, to not stoop to Nelson's level.
"We did that. We made them look like All Stars," Hill said, after bench player Dominic McGovan top scored with 17 points for the Hawks who are on a three-match losing streak after notching two opening wins under him following Kirstin Daly-Taylor's resignation early this month.
In his assessment, the Hawks simply weren't ready even though the mantra leading up to this weekend's double header was hanging one's hat on the cornerstone of defence and collecting rebounds.
Teenager McGovan made the most of his 26 minutes collecting five off the board and making as many assists, epitomising the bench's input.
Swingman Tony Tolovae, bound for China with NZ Select, matched McGovan on points with seven rebounds in 33 minutes of court time while co-skipper Everard Bartlett added 12 points and Fiji-born Joshua Fox scored 10 points.
"What we're doing isn't working," said Hill, believing complacency crept in because of their victories at the PG Arena.
He said in the first half the Hawks were terrible, shooting in the vicinity of 21 per cent from the field.
"We just got pushed around like rag dolls. We just weren't ready, it's as simple as that. It's a mind set with these guys and I seriously think they've been spoon fed for most of their lives.
"We don't have anyone who wants to go out there and cut anyone's head off or anything. They just want to go through the motions and hopefully come up with results."
With a 7pm tip off against the Canterbury Rams in Christchurch today, Hill was intending to regroup for a soul-searching discussion last night before catching their flight this morning.
He said American import centre Amir Williams' performance was "unacceptable" from the tip off.
"Amir was a no show today," he said of Williams who claimed a double-double in the loss against James Blond Supercity Rangers at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, last Saturday but only managed only two points and five rebounds.
The franchise sent South Africa import Grant Fiorentinos packing to Houston, Texas, on Thursday after Hill couldn't understand why there were two No 5s (centres) in the team.
"Tony [Tolovae] had a pretty good second half, was non-existent in the first, and Amir was non-existent from the word go," said Hill.
"Dominic McGovan was actually the only one to show up tonight. In all honesty that should be a punch in the face to all our players.
"The starting five should be pissed off when someone comes off the bench to score all the points," the former Tall Black lamented.
The son of Tall Blacks legend Stan Hill said the Hawks needed to take a hard look at themselves again.
"That's all I can do. I can only yell at them so much."
At halftime, he said, he had mapped out matters, pointing out their shooting was rubbish and that had flowed on to other parts of their system.
In fact, Hill felt last night's game was worse than their losing effort against the Rangers here.
"We started out slow and got our arses kicked," he said, disclosing they were on 15-0 run when the second half resumed but then the wheels came off.
Finn Delany (24pts), Dion Prewster (23) and Tom Ingham (21) did the damage.
"We have no heart," he said, asking the Hawks to slip on the singlet with some pride.
"We can put the systems in place but we don't have the smarts to run anything and we play with no heart.
"We want killers out there and we don't have anyone that wants to take the last shot so it's obviously something I want to look at for the Hawks next year."
Veteran Kareem Johnson, who Hill recalled to the Hawks with Fiorentinos' departure, scored four points and took six off the boards in 23 minutes.
"That was probably more than what we would have got out of Grant. His offensive side was average but that's quite understandable because he's not quite there but by tomorrow or the next game I'd say he'll be getting better."
Kenny's absence, he felt was not an excuse for losing although back-up general Mataeus Marsh was "a bit gung ho shy".
Hill wasn't about to molly coddle players under the apron of youth because "people who want to play have to show up on the road".
Kenny, by the way, returns to the helm to call the shots again on the court tonight.