Hawks import ready to snap form slump

BASKETBALL

Star guard Rotnei Clarke hopes to bust out of a month-long shooting slump when the Wollongong Hawks host the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Clarke was on fire in a New Year's Eve loss to Melbourne, nailing 9/10 three-point shots and racking up a season-high 37 points. He backed it up with 28 points four days later in a home win over Perth, hitting 6/10 threes.

But Clarke's long-range touch has deserted him since that hot spell.

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In the past five games he has averaged 16.2 points and made just 6/31 attempts (19 per cent) from three-point range.

If the Hawks are going to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, they need their backcourt bomber at his breathtaking best against the 36ers.

"Teams are doing a better job defensively but I'm just in a little slump right now," Clarke said.

"It's not the first one I've had in my career and it probably won't be the last.

"I'll just keep doing all I know to do, and that's to keep working and getting extra shots up during the day after practice.

"That's what I've done my whole life and that's been able to get me out of shooting slumps. I just have faith that the next one's going down."

Not surprisingly, Clarke has faced intensified defensive pressure over the past month.

"Obviously teams are starting to key in on me, whether that be doubling off screens or trapping me in certain situations, and you expect that," the 24-year-old American said.

"I've dealt with that before. I dealt with it in college and high school.

"I've shot worse in certain situations. I just keep believing the next one's going in and I'll eventually come out of it."

Wollongong seemed to have overcome a poor start to the season when they briefly climbed into fourth spot in December.

But four consecutive losses have left them needing a minor miracle to claim their third top-four finish in five years.

"It's frustrating for everyone. No-one likes to lose when you're a competitor," Clarke said.

"We've been in games that have been close down to the wire and it's just little things that are hurting us. We feel like we could've won games that we're losing, so it just makes it even more frustrating."

The Hawks won't win if they rely too heavily on Clarke and fellow import Kevin Tiggs.

"It's just something we have to do collectively as a team," Clarke said.

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