Hawk Clarke's early Christmas surprise


On the back of successive wins over bitter rivals the Sydney Kings, Wollongong Hawks players might be excused for thinking Christmas has come early.

But for star guard Rotnei Clarke, it's undoubtedly the case when the Hawks point-scoring machine got the ideal surprise to start his festive with the arrival of his fiancee Patricia Elliott.

After a four-month stint apart, she landed in Sydney to watch Wollongong score a valuable 69-63 away win and reunite with the Hawks' leading import.

"I actually surprised him. His teammates told him they were going to look at shoes and then they picked me up from the airport and told me we were going to a coffee shop, and then we ran into each other," Patricia said.

"It was great we were both so surprised."

For Clarke, who has been in top form averaging 20.4 points per game, it was a welcome shock.

"It is always tough when you come somewhere by yourself and sometimes you get bored going back home," Clarke said.

"My parents have come already, so her being here just makes the day go by faster and it is fun having her as well.

"She loves it here. Everything from the scenery and the beaches and the mountains.

"She liked Sydney but she is more of a small town person like I am."

The pair got engaged in May after meeting during Clarke's days playing at the University of Arkansas.

They are due to be married in June next year, but will spend an unfamiliar Christmas on Australian shores first.

"I was talking to [Patricia] today and was saying it doesn't really feel like Christmas for us because it's so warm," Clarke said.

"Usually back home we are praying for a white Christmas or for some snow because it is usually freezing around there.

"This year it is definitely a different experience."

Unfortunately for Clarke, his fiancee is returning home before the official celebration next week.

But that hasn't stopped the pair from enjoying the spirit of Saint Nick in Australia.

"He have already done it [had Christmas]. We had it in our apartment right when we got back from Sydney," Clarke said.

"We just couldn't wait, we wanted to open our gifts.

"So we have already done that part but we might go back up to Sydney and see some of the Christmas carol stuff they have got going on around there."

It's little wonder Clarke is eager to return to Sydney, his last visit turned out to be a memorable one with the Hawks.

The three-point specialist was hopeful the festive season on court could continue into the new year.

"It is good to be able to get two wins heading into the Christmas break but we have a tough team in Melbourne coming up, but we have got a lot of confidence going in," Clarke said.

"If we can put together a couple wins then we are right back in the mix of the top four so that is ultimately the goal, to get to the play-offs and you never know what can happen from there."

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