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Beveridge toasts Illawarra bench

AAP logoAAP 10/12/2016 By Matt Harris

Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge has hailed the impact of his bench in the wake of the Hawks' 98-88 NBL win over the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday night.

Coming off an away loss to the top-of-the-table Sydney Kings, the Hawks consolidated second position on the NBL ladder, leading the third-placed Bullets at every change largely thanks to a whopping 57 points from the bench.

American import Rotnei Clarke was the star performer once again for the Hawks, coming off the bench to finish the game with 24 points and three assists in 27 minutes at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

"In the last few weeks we've been scoring so much off the bench and with that comes a tag-team mentality," Beveridge said.

"We start with a defensive unit and go to an offensive unit so we're playing in and out.

"When Rotnei's on the floor we want him to light it up and go for it. When he's off the floor players like Mitch Norton can give us some stuff and so can Kevin White.

"I'm very happy with the balance of our team at the moment."

Rotnei is averaging 16 points per game so far this season, but in Illawarra's past five matches the Oklahoma product has sunk an average of 23 points, prompting some special praise from Beveridge.

"He's a big-time player for us," he said.

"We all started slow to begin the season and 'Rot' has found his groove now. He's come in off the bench and still playing lots of minutes.

"The great thing about him is that he's so unselfish. He has great defenders chasing him and he's absorbing that pressure and giving it up for others as well.

"He's last six or seven games have been outstanding."

While happy with his own form in recent weeks, the 27-year-old former NBL MVP credits Illawarra's recent turn in fortune, with the side having won four out of their past five matches, down to a change in mentality.

"We made a pact to each other as a team," Rotnei said.

"We started off the season slow but we wanted to get something going in the second half of the season and we're playing well as of late.

"I'm playing well but it's not about me - my teammates are doing a good job of setting me up and Coach is doing a good job of putting me on in spots."

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