Ran­dle braced for heated Hawks

Daily Mercury - - DIGEST SPORT - — Matt Logue

BAS­KET­BALL: Jerome Ran­dle lit a fuse un­der last sea­son’s fi­nals with an out­burst aimed at the Illawarra Hawks so per­haps it was in­evitable that his Syd­ney Kings de­but would be in Wol­lon­gong.

“There’s a lot of dirty play­ers on the team,” the then Ade­laide 36er said on the eve of the semi-fi­nals se­ries against the Hawks.

Illawarra used the crit­i­cism as in­spi­ra­tion to end the 36ers’ sea­son.

The point guard (pic­tured) makes his NBL re­turn tonight in Syd­ney’s pur­ple and gold and he ex­pects the Hawks’ faith­ful to un­leash a bar­rage of boos.

“I know it is not go­ing to be a good wel­come for me, but it is what it is,” Ran­dle said. “It hap­pens ... it’s a part of the game.”

Last year’s league MVP ap­pears to have mel­lowed in his feel­ings towards Illawarra, es­pe­cially af­ter work­ing un­der Hawks coach Rob Bev­eridge dur­ing the NBL’s All-Aus­tralian tour of China in July.

“Rob is a great coach,” Ran­dle said. “I think they are a tremen­dous team and they just come out and play hard. They take my game to an­other level, not only phys­i­cally but men­tally as well.” Hawks v Kings, tonight 6.30pm (AEST)

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