Livewire guard Rotnei Clarke’s 30-point haul couldn’t quite save the Hawks in Sunday’s trial against the Sydney Kings at the Snakepit in Wollongong.
The Hawks fell behind by 25 in the first half before fighting back on Clarke’s red-hot perimeter shooting to pull within three.
But the visitors made enough free throws to clinch a 98-93 victory.
Wollongong finished the pre-season with a 2-5 record and take on titleholders New Zealand in the 2013-14 season-opener on October 10.
Clarke hit 9/13 shots, including 5/8 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 7/7 at the foul line.
Fellow import Durrell Summers threw down three crowd-pleasing dunks and showcased his athleticism on the way to 26 points.
Summers poured in a game-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds on debut in Friday night’s double overtime win over the Kings, while Clarke finished with 25 points and six assists.
Absent for the Hawks was centre Larry Davidson. The home team sorely missed the 209-centimetre defensive anchor, particularly inside where Sydney’s A. J. Ogilvy casually racked up 16 first-half points before taking the rest of the night off.
Davidson was rested after turning an ankle in Friday’s clash but doesn’t expect to be sidelined for more than a few days.
“The disappointing thing was that we got totally out worked and their disruption early caused us a lot of problems, and we weren’t smart enough to work our way through it,” Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.
“The other thing was that we were closing out [defensively] on the wrong guys and leaving the wrong guys open. We weren’t where we needed to be mentally with what we were doing.”
McLeod was far more impressed with his side’s second-half performance.
“It was a great effort in the second half,” he said.
“We really did a good job of disrupting more, and we made some shots and applied some pressure and made a game of it.
“Obviously we’ve got some work to do, but we’ve made good improvement since our first pre-season game against Cairns.”
Hawks forward Oscar Forman and guard Rhys Martin combined for 15 points, while forward Tim Coenraad had six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Leading the way for Sydney were Brad Hill and Charles Carmouche, who each scored 23 points.
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