The Hawks might have lost in double overtime, but import Rotnei Clarke put an exclamation point with his season-high 37 points ensuring he won the NBL player-of-the-month award.
Clarke has been a standout in a difficult season so far for the competition cellar-dwellers.
The guard scored 27 points against the Kings, before nailing nine of 10 three-pointers on New Year’s Eve against the Tigers.
“This is obviously a great honour to be recognised by the judges of this award,” Clarke said.
A product of the US college system where he played for Butler, Clarke said he had had to rise to another level to be a standout in the NBL.
“I’ve had some good runs of form playing through school over the years but playing professionally is another step up and it’s just great to be doing it and playing well,” he said.
“We’ve lost a couple of close games over the past month but we’re still very positive at the Hawks. There’s a long way to go in this season and playing in the finals is still very much a focus for us. This is a really important month coming up that will make or break our season.”
Melbourne’s Chris Anstey was a clear winner of the NBL coach-of-the-month award.
Clarke edged out the Hawks’s Melbourne nemesis Chris Goulding and Perth’s James Ennis for the award.
Ennis will travel with the Wildcats to take on the Hawks in Wollongong tomorrow night, while Perth teammate Matt Knight has recovered from a concussion in the loss to Cairns and is expected to play.
Clarke said he had thrived in coach Gordie McLeod’s system and promised to help lead the Hawks into play-offs contention.
“I have to pay a lot of credit to the big guys in our team for that game,” he said of his Tigers haul. “We have a very unselfish team and guys like Dave Gruber and Larry Davidson were putting up some great screens and they kept feeding me the ball when they knew I was on a hot streak.”