American guard Gary Ervin has made an impassioned plea to frustrated Wollongong fans to stick with the struggling Hawks.
Despite entering the season with one of the club’s most talented teams on paper in recent years, Wollongong are last on the ladder with seven losses in eight games.
Hawks management is also under pressure to win the confidence of fans after copping intense public backlash over last week’s axing of rugged forward Dave Gruber.
Not surprisingly, crowds have dwindled with each loss.
After drawing a turnout of almost 3800 on opening night against Townsville, spectator numbers have dropped to 2716, 2407 and 2376 in the past three games against Cairns, New Zealand and Perth.
Some fans ran out of patience in last week’s 19-point loss to Perth, cursing and voicing their displeasure throughout the second half.
Wollongong host arch rivals Sydney in a must-win game for both teams on Friday night and Ervin urged Hawks followers to keep the faith.
‘‘We need our fans to be there and have our backs,’’ the 2011 NBL MVP said.
‘‘Without our fans, it’s hard to be the best team you can be. Your fans are a big part of it. When you’re going on [scoring] runs or when you’re down, having the fans screaming for you makes it a whole lot better.
‘‘It’s difficult for the fans because they just want to win, so we understand how they feel. But having our backs is key to turning this thing around. We need everybody.’’
Speaking of backs, Ervin missed last Sunday’s road loss to Melbourne with back spasms and sat out Tuesday’s training session.
The experienced playmaker got through Wednesday’s practice and appears certain to play against the Kings. Sydney are one spot above Wollongong with a 1-3 record.