Crocs facing tough trip to take on Hawks

QUEENSLAND clubs Cairns and Townsville will be out to launch the new NBL season tonight with a bang, despite both facing tough road trips.

Pre-season Blitz winner Townsville travels to Wollongong to take on the Hawks, and will have to cool down a slick back-court duo of imports Gary Ervin (pictured) and Jahii Carson.

Ervin returns to Wollongong from the Adelaide 36ers, four years after launching his NBL career with the Hawks.

Townsville looks a much-tougher outfit this season with the inside presence of big American Mickell Gladness.

Cairns has impressed judges, with many believing the Taipans have a roster that will surprise any rival that underestimates them.

Adelaide coach Joey Wright looks to have gone for an up-tempo roster, giving up size for speed, and Cairns could try to exploit the 36ers' lack of height inside.

In tonight's other clash, last season's champion, Perth, hosts the New Zealand Breakers who welcome back classy guard and former league MVP winner Cedric Jackson. The American will be a much-welcome addition to their roster following the departures of Gary Wilkinson, Daryl Corletto and Kerron Johnson, and injuries to Alex Pledger and Tom Abercrombie.

Round One draw (home teams first): Fri: Hawks v Crocs, 36ers v Taipans, Wildcats v Breakers; Sat: Kings v Hawks; Sun: Tigers v Taipans, Crocs v 36ers.