FRESH off their first loss of the Waratah League season, Scott Balsar's Illawarra Hawks have added a huge piece to their championship puzzle.
To ensure his youth men's side don't suffer another heavy defeat, as they did against Blacktown on Saturday, Balsar has been lucky enough to acquire the services of the Illawarra Hawks' NBL development player Lachlan Dent - who was originally slated to play with the North West Tasmanian Thunder in NBL1 before COVID-19.
During his career, the 20-year-old has represented both Australian and NSW junior teams on numerous occasions - which Bomaderry-resident Balsar knows will be a huge asset to the side.
"Lachie brings a wealth of experience to the team, especially after logging NBL minutes with the Hawks last season," Balsar said.
"He's got an exceptional basketball IQ - during all my time in the sport, he's easily one of the smartest players I've had the pleasure of coaching.
"As a point guard, he's an extension of the head coach on the court and he will help us get through our offensive sets, putting his teammates in the right position to excel.
"Then on defence, he thrives on bringing that pressure and disrupting the opposition - which is an element we struggled with last weekend.
"The whole group is really excited to have him on the court - he's definitely brought a spark."
The Hawks, who are now 2-1, will need that spark because they can't produce a similar performance this Saturday against the Sydney Comets - especially with Tom Cranny (hamstring) and Zac Ottossen (concussion) sidelined.
"There has been some soul searching this week with the whole squad, because we know last week wasn't good enough," Balsar said.
"This week's game is pivotal for us because we can't afford to be going into our 'doomsday double-header' [against Newcastle and Central Coast] with a 2-2 record.
"Comets appear similar to Blacktown, in the fact they are a big athletic side, who like to get up and down the court.
"It's imperative we find our opponents on defence, close-out on their shooters and try and disrupt their flow.
"They are a well-coached side, so the boys need to be willing to go into the trenches and grind out a win because we can't make it a shootout.
"If we slow it down and execute on offence while winning the battle on the glass and play with energy, I'm confident we can improve to 3-1."