Hired gun: Hawks sign US import to save season

EXCLUSIVE 

The injury-stricken Wollongong Hawks can finally see light at the end of the tunnel after yesterday's signing of former University of Miami star Malcolm Grant.

A former college teammate of injured Hawks import Lance Hurdle, Grant will touch down in Sydney this morning.

The 185cm guard has been signed as a replacement for Hurdle for the remainder of the 2012-13 season and is hoping to be cleared by immigration in time for Wollongong's Australia Day clash with reigning champions New Zealand at WIN Entertainment Centre.

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"I'm really blessed for the opportunity the Hawks are providing me," Grant said.

"It's all happened really quick but I was ready to go. I'm looking forward to being in Wollongong, getting ready and helping the team out wherever I can.

"Lance is a good friend of mine and coming to a situation with people you know will help me make the transition as quick as possible."

Hurdle underwent surgery on Friday after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of Wollongong's January 11 overtime loss to Cairns.

Hurdle, who informed Hawks management of Grant's availability, believes the club has added a quality player.

"It's great. For him to come here and play with us, it's going to be great for him, our team and the community," he said.

"He's my best friend from home. We're always with each other. It's crazy how it works sometimes. He was sitting around waiting for that call to come from any team overseas or the [NBA] D League, just to get an opportunity to play.

"He's a great player. Having him here will help take my mind off the injury a bit. It'll be good to catch up with him and show him around the place a bit."

Grant will provide instant relief for Wollongong's decimated backcourt.

On the same night Hurdle went down, starting point guard Rhys Martin also suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter.

"I don't know much about him, but we need some relief in the guard positions and he'll definitely help for the rest of the season," Hawks forward Glen Saville said.

"Hopefully he can fit in quite well. As is always the case when we get someone in, we'll try to get him up to speed as quick as we can."

Martin is scheduled to undergo surgery this morning to repair a torn ACL.

Despite the injuries, the Hawks lost by a single point to the Breakers in Auckland on Thursday and went down by eight in Saturday's road loss to Townsville.

Wollongong have lost eight of their past nine games but are still clinging to fourth spot.

The club may yet bring in an Australian guard to cover the loss of Martin, who was having the best season of his career.

The Australia Day showdown with the Breakers tips off at 5pm and Hawks officials are hoping for a big turnout.

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