IT’S the head-to-head battle that has NBL fans licking their lips and may well place this season’s MVP race in a nutshell.
HEAD TO HEAD: The battle between Hawks guard Kevin Lisch and Adelaide star Jerome Randle is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre on Thursday. Picture: Robert Peet
Adelaide will will head to Wollongong on Thursday on the back of six straight wins spear-headed by diminutive superstar Jerome Randle who is odds-on to claim the league’s top individual gong.
The Cal-Berkeley alum currently leads the league in scoring with 24 points per game and is second for assists with five per game.
Lisch is also in rare form at both ends of the floor and remains arguably the best two-way player in the league.
His push for a second MVP award has been hampered this season by sharing votes with the Hawks two other stars Kirk Penney and AJ Ogilvy.
But with Pennney no chance of playing this week as he recovers from a burst blood vessel in his hamstring a greater weight will fall on Lisch’s shoulders.
It’s something he’s thrived on this season with his two best performances – 30 points against Cairns and 40 points against New Zealand two weeks ago – coming with Penney nursing injuries on the bench.
The back-court showdown between Lisch and Randle will go along way to deciding Thursday’s game and will be the continuation of a battle that began when they faced off as high schoolers in Illinoisa decade ago.
‘‘I don’t think I played a great game and they’re team ended up beating us,’’ Lisch recalled.
‘‘We made a run at them late but him and another guy were really great players.
‘‘He’s a great player and he seems to have a great respect for the game and for his teammates.
‘‘Guys like that in the league can only do this league good.
‘‘It’s great to have him here and it’ll be fun to go against him.”
Randle has averaged 29 points and six assists in six straight wins for the 36rs leaving him to boldly declare this week that no one in the league can guard him when he’s on.
You will never hear the famously soft-spoken Lisch make such brash statements but the 2009-10 MVP, who leads the league in steals, said he enjoys the challenge of putting the clamp on the league’s best scorers.
‘‘No matter who I’m guarding I try to pride myself on defence,’’ Lisch said.
‘‘The way he’s playing, the way he can move andget other guys involved and the way he can shoot the ball he’s an incredibly tough guy to guard.
‘‘I don’t really like to get into personal battles.
“I know some guys can thrive on that but for me you can really losethe whole focus so it’s certainly a whole team thing with him.”
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