IT’S been labelled “dirty” by league MVP Jerome Randle but Illawarra hard-man Kevin White says the Hawks won’t be curbing their aggressive style of play ahead of their semi-final showdown with Adelaide that tips off on Thursday.
Randle lit the fuse for an explosive start to the NBL finals series on Tuesday, letting loose with mighty spray in which he labeled the Hawks a “dirty team” and claimed he couldn’t find anything to like about any of Rob Beveridge’s men.
"I just don't like them. I don't like the way they play basketball,” he said.
"I don't like anything about none of the guys on the team. I'm just being honest.
"There's a lot of dirty players on the team, that is how they play - fight first, play basketball second."
Randle confirmed his status as the NBL’s best player in claiming the league’s top individual honour on Monday night but he’s had a tough time of things against Illawarra this season.
Wollongong remains the only city where he’s yet to taste victory and he’s averaged just 16 points, compared to his league wide 21, against the Hawks at just 21.8 per cent from the field and just 12.5 per cent from three-point range.
White, who’s had a happy knack of getting under Randle’s skin over the past two seasons, brushed off the comments one Wednesday, saying they won’t change the Hawks on-court approach.
“It is what it is, he can say what he wants. At the end of the day it’s playoff basketball and we’re here for all the right reasons,” White said.
“Some guys might see that as motivation but we’re in the playoffs and we’re all playing for a championship. If that’s not motivation in itself you shouldn’t be here.
“What Jerome said is what he said and we can agree or disagree it doesn’t really matter.
“We don’t go out to bash people or play dirty but we go out to play hard. If people see that as unconventional or not the style of basketball they like to play that’s fine, but that’s the basketball we play here at Illawarra and we’re happy with that brand. We won’t be apologising to anyone.
“We’re coming in to win. We really want to go over there and get the win in this first game and come back here with a chance to seal the deal on our home floor and get into that championship series.”
Randle’s comments have added spice the clash, and ensured he’ll receive a hostile reception in Sunday’s return clash in Wollongong, White said a chance to go one better than they’re third-placed finish last season is motivation enough for his side.
“It’s amazing. It’s our second year with this coaching staff and core group of guys and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be back in the playoffs,” White said.
“Our goal this year was to make the playoffs and obviously win a championship, but for now it’s all about this series.
“Last year we weren’t happy with just settling for playoffs and this year we want to go one better. We want to be in a grand final series and give ourselves the chance to win a championship.
“We need to get back to work this week and get excited about what’s ahead.
“Its a great time to be a part of basketball in the Illawarra and it’d be great to come back here to our home floor with the chance to get the job done and roll into a championships series as well.”