Two of the greatest Illawarra Hawks of all-time have sent a special message of support ahead of the team's semi final series against the Perth Wildcats.
Chuck Harmison and Mat Campbell recorded a special video message with the Illawarra Mercury at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday, which was sent to the Hawks before the first semi-final in Perth tonight. The Hawks take on Perth in game two at the WEC on Saturday night.
The club greats paid tribute to the efforts of the side which has gone from a complete rebirth 12 months ago to making the NBL finals. Harmison, a veteran of 234 matches with the Hawks, said the 2021 version of the Hawks sat well with the blue-collar history of the club.
"Even our stars in Tyler (Harvey) and Justinian (Jessup), they just work hard, there's not a lot of showmanship, they are just good, tough players," Harmison said.
"And you look down the roster as well, Sam Froling the same thing and it's great having Timmy (Coenraad) back, he is the epitome of the Illawarra spirit. This is the Illawarra's team"
Neither great could have imagined the new-look Hawks could find themselves in this position so soon after going into administration at the end of last season.
"Once they hired Brian Goorjian everyone was quietly confident there would be a vast improvement but to get to this stage, a semi-final, probably not in my wildest dreams," Harmison said.
Campbell, who played 17 seasons with the club including the Hawks' 2001 national title, said the way the side had come together was most impressive.
"It's been that resilience from a team point of view," Campbell said.
"There's been some ebbs and flows but I think the fact they have maintained their defensive intensity and that's given them a chance to win games, that's something I like watching about them. They don't have to be pretty on the floor but at the end of the game, with five minutes to go, they still have a chance to win. That shows they are a very good team."
He paid special tribute to players like Sam Froling, Emmett Naar and Dan Grida, who stuck by the club through administration.
"They've embedded themselves in the community here and as many players have done in the past they've appreciated the support they get and grown to love the town," he said.
Harmison called for the Illawarra to come out in support on Saturday night.
"I hope we bring 5500 people," Harmison said. "The team deserves to have this place full to see them in a semi final game. Hopefully it will be a win tonight and a win on Saturday night and it will just go off."
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