Buoyant Ballinger bounces back for Wollongong Hawks

Adam Ballinger puts in the hard yards at Hawks training on Thursday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Adam Ballinger puts in the hard yards at Hawks training on Thursday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

BASKETBALL 

Wollongong Hawks returnee Adam Ballinger believes Melbourne United dropped the ball with their controversial decision to release the 205cm forward with a year remaining on his contract.

Ballinger, who played with the Hawks from 2005-07, arrived in Wollongong with wife Bianca and their three children this week.

The 35-year-old planned to play with Melbourne in the 2014-15 NBL season, up until a month ago.

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That's when a stunned Ballinger learned his services were no longer required by the club formerly known as the Melbourne Tigers.

Ballinger said his axing was poorly handled.

"I'm not worried about it now, but I was when it happened because it happened really late," he said after Thursday's training session.

"If we would've known straight after the season, then we could make plans, but the way it happened and the way they dealt with it was really disappointing.

"I'm here now and I've put all that behind me. I'm glad to be here and I'm glad to still be playing.

"At this stage of my career I don't want to be playing for a point to prove. If I'm here and we're successful and we're having fun playing, then that will prove a point in itself."

Ballinger is looking for a home in Wollongong after his rushed departure from Melbourne.

"We didn't know about it till three weeks ago. We had to take the kids out of school and they'd made friends and everything, so it's been pretty difficult," he said.

"We have to find the right area and the right schools to put them in, and it really narrows your choices."

Ballinger is enjoying being back at his old stomping ground.

"Driving around here, the fact that it hasn't changed much is a good thing," he said. "We've been gone for a while so there's definitely going to be some changes, but the Snakepit looks about the same."

Wollongong have six players signed for next season and are on the verge of recruiting the first of their two imports for the season.

Former Hawks import Gary Ervin is believed to be returning to the nest after playing with Adelaide in last season's grand final series against Perth.

Ervin had a spectacular debut NBL season with Wollongong in 2010-11, becoming only the second player in club history to capture NBL MVP honours.

Ervin will effectively take the place of former Hawks import Rotnei Clarke, who became the club's third NBL MVP last season.

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