Jerome Randle said Illawarra is a dirty team.
Jerome Randle said Illawarra is a dirty team. TONY MCDONOUGH

Hawks coach refuses to bite over "dirty” comments

BASKETBALL: Illawarra is offering a firm "no comment" to Jerome Randle's claims the Hawks are a dirty team ahead of tomorrow's opening game in the NBL semi finals.

Hawks coach Rob Beveridge refused to be drawn into any debate sparked by the league MVP's accusations yesterday.

"I don't like anything about none of the guys on the team. I'm just being honest," Randle told Adelaide media.

"There's a lot of dirty players on the team, that is how they play - fight first, play basketball second."

Other than initial shock at Randle's claim, Beveridge offered no public comment.

Privately, the Hawks are believed to be seething at the claims after Illawarra proved the only team to be Adelaide's master during the regular season, beating the 36ers 3-1 in their four-match series.

Their domination included a 34-point win, Adelaide's biggest loss of 2016-17.

Randle, injured late last season playing against Illawarra - with him out the 36ers narrowly missed the playoffs - has had his issues with the manner players such as Kevin White have defended him in the past.

When the Hawks beat Adelaide in Wollongong late last month, White was suspended for one game but instead fined $1000 by taking an early plea, after being found guilty of "unduly rough play" over an off-the-ball incident with Sixers centre Eric Jacobsen.

Generally a popular team across Australia - Illawarra mainstay Oscar Forman is the last active player from Adelaide's 2002 NBL championship team - Randle's ire is sure to spark a reaction on Sunday at The Sandpit in Wollongong for Game Two of the best-of-three series.

Hawks fans already are antsy import Rotnei Clarke was not selected in either of the NBL's All Star Five teams at Monday's awards night in Melbourne, despite the 2014 MVP winning Best Sixth Man honours.

By the nature of his awards success, it obviously discounted him from First Team consideration but Hawks fans now have a new target on which to focus, Wollongong the only city in which Adelaide did not win this season.