NEW Kings import Jerome Randle is expecting a hostile reception when he returns to the WEC on Thursday, but has re-iterated the admiration he holds for Hawks coach Rob Beveridge.
Randle raised the hackles of Hawks fans when he labeled their team “dirty” in lead-up to last season’s semi-final series. Beveridge fired back with some barbs of his own accusing the league MVP of “shooting his mouth off.”
The spiteful series was ultimately won 2-1 by Illawarra with the Hawks coming from 1-0 down. Randle, however, played under Beveridge in the NBL All-Stars tour of China in June where the pair buried the hatchet.
He took to Twitter to express his admiration for Beveridge at the time and echoed the sentiment ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Hawks.
"People have to understand that Rob Beveridge is a great coach, I always had respect for Rob,” Randle told the Kings website.
“He was my coach in China, so I got to know him a little bit better. He makes me think about the game other than just playing a physical game.”
Randle is yet to taste victory at the WEC in five attempts and, despite the anticipated reception, he said the Hawks always manage to bring out the best in him.
“It's not easy to just go out and play against a coach and a team that throw so many different offenses against you, so it's a big challenge when I play against the Illawarra Hawks,” Randle said.
"I think they're a tremendous team and they just come out and play hard, they take my game to another level, not only physically but mentally as well."