Pineau carries Phoenix to vital win

Another massive rebounding effort from emerging South East Melbourne forward Dane Pineau has helped his side to a 90-82 away win over Illawarra and kept them in the NBL playoff hunt.

A 17-0 second-quarter run to the Phoenix, which turned a nine-point deficit into an eight-point lead, swung Sunday's game in Wollongong in the visitors' favour.

The Phoenix led by as much as 18 in the third quarter, but a resurgent Hawks slashed the deficit to two with just over four minutes to go.

The visitors closed out the win to move above the New Zealand Breakers into seventh place.

Pineau, who is considered a strong contender for the league's most-improved player award, was a huge factor despite racking up three fouls well before halftime.

He made all seven of his field-goal attempts, and finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

It followed up a 17 point, 20 rebound effort in the Phoenix's last game.

Kendall Stephens was another big contributor for South East Melbourne, coming off the bench to score 20 points and making six three-pointers.

Conversely, Illawarra made just three of 20 long bombs, while the Phoenix connected with 12.

Between them, the two teams missed their first nine field-goal efforts, but the Hawks scored the last six points of the first quarter to lead 26-18 at the end of the term.

The Phoenix outscored Illawarra 29-13 in the second quarter to lead 47-39 at halftime.

Stephens scored one more points than the Hawks in the second quarter.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Phoenix, who had 11 turnovers after two quarters and Tai Wesley missed his first six-field goal attempts before finally making one in the third quarter.

Captain Todd Blanchfield top-scored for Illawarra with 15 and three players tallied 13, including Sam Froling, who added 11 boards.