Illawarra is 1-4 but import Gary Clark insists he wouldn't swap out a single member of the Hawks roster, insisting it's "right there" when it comes to getting over the winning hump.
The Hawks take on Cairns in Wollongong on Thursday night looking to avoid a fourth straight loss on the back of last week's defeat to United at the WEC. Jacob Jackomas' side led the game with 2.43 to play in the second half before United closed the term on a 12-4 run.
They also trailed by just five with four minutes to play in the third only to 0-9 from the field as Melbourne built a 14-point three-quarter deficit. It came a week after squandering a six-point three-quarter-time lead on the road to Adelaide.
"A lot of people around the league, and fans, are probably in a panic doubting what we can be, but within our group we have some honest guys that understand we're right there," Clark said.
"People say, 'oh, you're at the bottom' we're just off being a team that no one wants to play every night. Looking at some of the teams we've played, and looking around [the league], on paper there's no other crew that has what we have.
"[Others] maybe have a little bit more athleticism, because we're not the most athletic crew, but as far as talent and being really elite at what each guy does, I'm taking our guys over all the [other] guys.
"I'm taking Tyler Harvey out of any other shooter in the league, J-Rob (Justin Robinson) out of any other point-guard throughout the league, Sam out of any big.
"I've never played with a big that passes the ball out of a roll like Sam does. With the guys that are on the court [for us] the majority of the time, I like our guys better than a lot of others."
A win on Thursday would see the Hawks draw level with the Taipans on two wins, ahead of a tough away-home double against United and Sydney, with Clark confident a win will spark winning run to kick his side out of the doldrums.
"When you look at the standings, fourth place is two wins," Clark said.
"When you look at that, we've got a lot of basketball games left to be played. A lot of people were curious about why things weren't just gelling and as a group, we've been able to go back to the drawing board and look at ourselves, each player.
"We're kind of priding ourselves on trying to put those little pieces, one or two things offensively to get a great shot, and then defensively one or two things to get a stop. Right now we're just hoping and praying people miss or turn it over instead of [thinking] 'no, we're going get a stop'.
"We're not asking a guy to get a crazy vertical [leap], or get stronger in the next two days before the game. It's 'I've got to box this guy out' or 'I've got to make this read'. It's small things that if we do it more times then we don't do it, we'll come out successful."
Clark's own form has been a silver lining for the Jackomas, with the former Houston Rockets big averaging 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals over his last three outings.
It came after a sluggish start through the preseason Blitz and the opening two regular season fixtures, but the 28-year-old was always confident he would come good.
"I pride myself on my defence and I knew, if I just did that, everything else would follow," he said.
"Offensively, I couldn't get it going because, when I first got here, I was adjusting to the basketball, the three-point line and also getting smacked in the face by how physical the league is.
"In order for you to be a threat, you have to make shots, you have to make threes, you need to make people close to your feet. A lot of teams have been not respecting me from three and it kind of plays with your head as a player and you lose your confidence a little bit
"When I had more time to get more reps and saw the spots that I was going to get my shots, now I'm able to get downhill. I think in Tasmania when I saw it go through [from three] the first time, it was downhill from there and it was 'now it's on'.
"It's just trusting that process of the work, starting from the defensive end, and not forcing anything offensively."
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