While Wollongong’s play-off hopes remain on a knife-edge, mid-season recruit Malcolm Grant has already declared his desire to stay with the Hawks beyond this season.
Grant has made a major on-court contribution since arriving in Australia, following a season-ending injury to Hawks guard and close friend Lance Hurdle.
The former University of Miami sharp-shooter scored a game high 21 points in the crucial victory over Adelaide, which has maintained the gap over the Melbourne Tigers.
Facing off against the Tigers in Wollongong on Friday night, Grant said the Hawks wanted the chance to be part of a title-contending force this year and in the future.
‘‘Definitely,’’ Grant said.
‘‘If they will have me and things are going right, I would definitely like to stay out here.
‘‘That’s if it all goes according to plan, it’s one of those things, but the people out here are wonderful and [the Hawks] are so good to me since I’ve been here.
‘‘I would love to stay.’’
With their season on the slide, the Hawks’ crippling injury toll led to their SOS for Grant.
A knee injury forced Glen Saville to retire last week after 19 seasons, while Rhys Martin and Hurdle have both been sidelined until the end of the year.
Larry Davidson, Tim Coenraad and Tyson Demos have been among the other injury concerns.
On the recommendation of Hurdle and former Hawks league MVP Gary Ervin – now with Townsville – Grant filled the yawning gap in Wollongong’s roster.
While Grant and Adris Deleon are in charge of leading a renewed surge to the finals series, it now provides a fascinating sub-plot about who will remain on deck at the end of the season.
The Hawks, like most NBL clubs, have had mixed success attracting talented imports. Ervin was a standout, while Ty McKee proved a hit before his off-court misdemeanours saw him leave the club. But the Hawks struggled with Showron Glover and Ayinde Ubaka last season.
Grant said coach Gordie McLeod had played an important role in preventing the Hawks’ season from falling apart.
‘‘When you have a great coach like we have and I’ve only been here a short period of time, but I know that he’s been very positive,’’ Grant said.
‘‘He’s a leader and if he’s being positive it trickles down through the team, it’s something I admire about him.’’
With eight games remaining, including five at home, Grant is determined to ensure Wollongong makes the final four in March and April.
‘‘I think I’ve adjusted pretty well, I’m still used to the [Hawks] plays, I’m still getting them down pat,’’ he said.
‘‘We have the opportunity to be in the play-offs, we just have to take care of business.’’