Hawks sweat on flu-ridden Clarke

BASKETBALL

American sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke is racing the clock to be fit for Wollongong's duel with Adelaide tonight at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Clarke, the NBL's third-leading scorer, is crucial to the Hawks' chances of overcoming the 36ers, particularly with fellow import Kevin Tiggs still sidelined with a knee injury.

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Despite getting through a light shooting session yesterday, the 24-year-old was bedridden with the flu for most of the week and is battling to recover in time for tonight's 7.30 tip-off.

"The advice was for Rotty to miss practice," coach Gordie McLeod said.

"We'll see how he goes, obviously with the mind of just managing him to have him right for the game. He's been treated and given the medication. Hopefully he'll be right to go."

Clarke is averaging 21.6 points per game in his first season in Australia.

He has raised his play to another level lately, averaging 27.8 points in Wollongong's four straight wins.

The 36ers will have a defensive plan to stop Clarke, whose illness might sap him of his usual speed and energy.

Wollongong cruised to a surprisingly easy 102-80 victory over Adelaide earlier this month, a defeat which is sure to have the visitors in an angry mood tonight.

"They've been a very aggressive team all year," McLeod said.

"That's what we have to expect and what we have to prepare for. We expect them to come in here and get after us big time and really push the ball hard. That's their trademark, and they've caused a lot of teams some problems."

Adelaide are the league's most prolific offensive team, scoring a large chunk of their points through their slick running game.

They rely on full-court defensive traps to force turnovers, though their half-court defence isn't nearly as effective and they tend to concede a lot of points.

McLeod is wary of the Sixers' propensity to run at every opportunity.

"We need to stay really aggressive at the offensive end of the floor, obviously our transition defence is going to have to be right on the ball, and we have to get on the glass because they're a pretty relentless rebounding team," he said.

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