Froling fuels Hawks with career-night

DESPITE a tumultuous season to date, the Illawarra Hawks were finally able to claim their second win of the NBL season, proving 14 points too good for Melbourne United at WIN Entertainment Centre on Monday night.

The Hawks finally looked like a winning side after a tough losing streak, and the side rallied behind a career-best performance from emerging star Sam Froling. After gradually building over the past couple of seasons, the 22-year-old is in the midst of a breakout campaign, which was further demonstrated against Melbourne in Round 9’s final game, where he led all-comers on the scoreboard.

If the Hawks are to upset a few contenders in the run home, Froling will be well and truly amongst the action, proving himself as a reliable avenue to scoring on a team that has struggled to find such a prospect.

Sam Froling of the Illawarra Hawks.
Sam Froling in action for the Hawks. Photo: AAP

Illawarra Hawks (93) def. Melbourne United (79)

Sam Froling – 29 points (11/17 FG), nine rebounds, one assist, one block

Froling was the clear standout in Illawarra’s first win since October, stepping up and shouldering some of the offensive load and leading the charge on the scoreboard with a willingness to put up shots across all three levels.

Froling kicked things off defending the paint quite well on the first possession of the game, pulling down the defensive board off a Chris Goulding miss. Down the other end, he made his intentions known straight away with a strong charge inside, drawing a foul and sending himself to the charity stripe, where he nailed both free throws. In transition, the big man showed no hesitation, cutting into the paint on the fast break and getting the job done with a lay-up.

Sam Froling was excellent on Monday night. Photo: Anna Warr

In the back half of the term, Froling exploded and scored 12 points in the final four and a half minutes of play. He showed confidence in his three-point shot, draining two in the space of a minute and helping the Hawks to a six-point quarter-time advantage.

Froling continued to torment the United defence, and although Melbourne crowded the paint a bit more, the young gun’s ability to score from 10 feet out was still an effective method of scoring. He drained buckets in the form of floaters and post hooks, and continuing to make his way to the free throw line as Illawarra maintained its lead at the main change.

Froling began to find himself in a bit of foul trouble in the second half, but coach Jacob Jakomas opted to keep the big man in the game, and continued to reap the rewards of the 22-year-old’s strong play on the offensive end. Working well in the pick and roll with Peyton Siva, Froling pushed through the contact for a nice and-one in the third term. He was still able to nail a jump shot or two in between his inside baskets, with his motion looking as smooth as ever and showcasing his versatility when scoring the rock.

Unfortunately, his night was cut slightly short after picking up his fifth foul, albeit it did not look as if there was a heap of contact there and the big man certainly let the refs know about it. However, his impact was undeniable, leading the Hawks to win number two on the season, one that was desperately needed.

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