Hawks claim first NBL season win v Taipans

The Illawarra Hawks have broken through for their first win of the NBL season, grinding out a tough 89-88 result against the Cairns Taipans at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

The one-point win was sealed by a last-second free-throw by Hawks centre AJ Ogilvy, who finished the game with 19 points - stepping up for the injured Josh Boone, who suffered a broken nose in the first quarter.

"I was really happy with the way AJ stepped up tonight, as I know he works as hard as anyone in this league," Hawks coach Matt Flinn said.

"His mobility and strength in the pick and roll, especially with potent guards like Aaron Brooks and LaMelo Ball, make him one of the tougher covers in the league."

Forward Todd Blanchfield top-scored for the hosts with 20, as NBA veteran Aaron Brooks and LaMelo Ball chipped in 19 and nine points respectively.

The Taipans were paced by DJ Newbill, who scored a game-high 26 points, including five from seven from three-point territory, while also recording three rebounds and three assists.

Fellow Taipans imports Cameron Oliver (14) and Scott Machado (14) also reached double figures, while Majok Deng scored 17.

The Taipans started the stronger of the two winless sides, jumping out to a 23-18 lead after the first period, thanks to 10 points from Oliver.

Back-to-back three-pointers from Kouat Noi and Deng saw the Taipans' lead balloon to 11 points midway through the second term.

But the Hawks ended the term on a 14-8 run, to trail by five at the main break - despite Brooks' 15 first-half points.

A 16-2 explosion by the Hawks to start the second half saw the hosts surge to the front and lead by six at three-quarter-time.

In the fourth, the Taipans, who lost the turnover count 19-10, regained the lead on numerous occasions, before Ogilvy's clutch free-throw sealed Flinn's first win as Hawks coach.

"Every game in this league is a big game but we knew heading into this one, it was going to be a real grind, as we were both desperate to get our seasons off and running," Flinn said.

"The Taipans hit some massive shots down the stretch but credit to our guys who dug deep of defence when it counted - which was an area of concern for us after the first two losses."

The Hawks, now 1-2 on the season, will look to double their win tally on Saturday when they face the South East Melbourne Phoenix on the road.

The winless Taipans will now attempt to claim their first victory of the season when they travel to Perth on Friday.