The Illawarra Hawks are back.
Proving two away wins in three days last weekend were no fluke, Nick Kay’s Hawks shell-shocked Adelaide 36ers with a stunning second half blitz on Saturday night.
Trailing by 10-points at the half, Illawarra charged to an epic 96-87 road win at Titanium Security Arena.
Adelaide - who Illawarra knocked out of last season’s NBL finals – led by as many as 15 in the third before Hawks imports Demitrius Conger and Rotnei Clarke stole momentum.
Conger finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Clarke (24 points, eight rebounds and four assists) also orchestrated a stunning Illawarra comeback.
Adelaide import Ramone Moore (24 points) had the 36ers in the box seat after the hosts rocketed out of the blocks.
Despite back-to-back losses, Adelaide started the game with confidence.
Adelaide captain Mitch Creek cut through some weak Hawks defence to put the hosts 12-4 up inside the opening four minutes.
The 36ers maintained the buffer throughout the quarter as Nathan Sobey took control for the hosts.
The talented swingman, who had 12 points in the quarter, propelled Adelaide to a double-digit lead with four minutes left in the opening term.
It was an 11-point margin at the half-time break.
Conger was the only man keeping Illawarra in touch in the third as the gun import continued to hold his nerve from the foul line.
Adelaide’s double-digit advantage started to evaporate midway through the third as Conger proved unstoppable for the hosts.
The nine-point three quarter time margin proved futile when the Hawks went on a Clarke-inspired 8-0 run to start the third.
Once they were in touching distance, Illawarra never looked back.
Rhys Martin’s deep three followed up by a lay-up put them in front and the Hawks held the lead there.
Clarke fired away from long range to keep the 36ers at bay as Conger bulled his rivals to inspire a superb away win.
Kay played the second most minutes for the Hawks and was the equal top rebounder for the game with Conger.
This story originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury.