Clarke, Ervin to face off in Adelaide

Rotnei Clarke trains with the Hawks on Tuesday for tonight’s clash. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO
Rotnei Clarke trains with the Hawks on Tuesday for tonight’s clash. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO


They attended the same US college but Wollongong Hawks import Rotnei Clarke and countryman Gary Ervin aren't planning a reunion party tonight in Adelaide.

Well-travelled 36ers guard Ervin was a senior standout for the University of Arkansas during the 2007-08 season.

That was the same year Arkansas secured the heavily recruited Clarke, who was soon to become the most prolific scorer in the history of Oklahoma high school basketball.

When Ervin graduated, Clarke essentially became his successor at Arkansas in the 2008-09 season.

Clarke etched his name in the school's history books as a sophomore, scoring a team-record 51 points in a single game and making 13 three-point shots.

He and Ervin will directly oppose each other at various stages of tonight's clash and the chances of them hooking up for a pre-game or post-game trip down memory lane are slim.

"Most of it will be business, I would assume," Clarke said.

"I might say hi to him before the game, but I don't know him extremely well. I have met him a couple of times. I was recruited by Arkansas when he was there, so I'm sure we'll say a little something, but most of it will be business."

Ervin is sure to feel the same.

The 30-year-old debuted in Australia with the Hawks in 2010-11, leading the league in scoring and becoming the club's first NBL MVP in 30 years.

The playmaker returned to Australia with Townsville last season before shifting to Adelaide in the off-season.

Ervin will no doubt remember Clarke and be keen to make a statement to the rookie.

Wollongong opened their 2013-14 campaign with a 19-point loss to New Zealand, while the 36ers went down by three to Perth.

Clarke said the Hawks found a few silver linings in the defeat.

"Obviously there was a lot of negatives, but there was a lot of positives as well, so we're just going to have to take those into the next game," the 24-year-old guard said.

"It was a good test for us for the first game and it gained some good experience for our new guys.

"We knew it was going to be a tough test going into it. We got some key guys in foul trouble and that was hard to overcome, and we turned the ball over too much in the second half."

Wollongong welcomed a new teammate this week with the signing of American swingman Kevin Tiggs.

Tiggs has received immigration clearance and will make his NBL debut against the Sixers.

"He'll definitely help, especially with our depth. He'll be a good addition for us," Clarke said of Tiggs.

Anthony could be Sixers’ secret weapon

Adelaide have no shortage of offensive weapons in tonight’s round-two meeting with Wollongong.

Gary Ervin and Adam Gibson could light up the backcourt, centres Daniel Johnson and Luke Schenscher might dominate inside, or maybe forwards Anthony Petrie and Jarrid Frye will do all the damage for the 36ers.

But there’s a player not mentioned in that group and he might be the NBL’s best secret weapon.

Forward BJ Anthony joined the Sixers in the off-season on a two-year deal after previously playing with the New Zealand Breakers.

A member of New Zealand’s 2010 world championships team, the 25-year-old’s brief career has not been without controversy.

The Tall Blacks once suspended him over a drink-driving incident, while the Breakers also suspended Anthony after he turned up to training under the influence of alcohol.

But he has been on the straight and narrow since then.

After starring in the 2013 New Zealand national league season, Anthony was snapped up by the Sixers.

He was in the starting five in last week’s round-one loss to Perth, tallying four points, five rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes.

‘‘I’ve been really impressed with BJ,’’ Petrie said.

‘‘He crashes the glass, he’s strong as a mallee bull. He’s quite quick for his size and has good footwork. He’s got beautiful moves around the basket.

‘‘He worked his bum off in the pre-season and got himself into good nick. He’s a great find by [coach] Joey [Wright] and the club to bring him across. He’s doing really well.’’

Anthony might come off the bench tonight if Wright opts to start Frye in his return from an ankle injury.

Despite the absence of Frye and experienced guard Adam Gibson against Perth, the Sixers almost pulled off an upset.

‘‘We played well. No-one gave us a chance playing over there without two starters,’’ Petrie said.

‘‘We looked at the video and there’s a couple of things we could’ve tidied up, but we played a pretty decent game.

‘‘We were right there. You’re never happy with a loss, but there was lots of positives and we’ll try to focus on those, and fix the little things that need fixing.

‘‘It was a big off-season. We’ve got some nice new players and the boys are playing hard.’’


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