South East Melbourne Phoenix expect more boos when they take on the Hawks in Wollongong

South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell is anticipating another unfriendly reception from the Illawarra fans on Friday night after forward Mitch Creek copped boos in Wollongong last week as he continues to play despite facing assault charges.

Creek was hit with a barrage of boos every time he touched the ball against the Hawks at the WIN Entertainment Centre in round 12 on April 1.

The Phoenix co-captain struggled to cope with the extra spotlight, scoring just two points in his 20 minutes on the court.

The clash versus Illawarra was Creek’s first game since being charged by Victorian Police on March 15 for allegedly assaulting a woman.

The 28-year-old has been charged with intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault over an incident in Melbourne’s western suburbs on November 22 last year.

Having mutually agreed to originally stand Creek down, the NBL was legally forced to let him train and play after his lawyer questioned the league’s rules, which don’t include a stand-down policy like the NRL.

Mitch Creek copped a barrage of boos against Illawarra when the teams last met. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

His lawyers, who have announced they will be defending the charges, also believe he should be allowed to play unless he is convicted.

Mitchell knows the Illawarra faithful will be at their vocal best again on Friday night.

“We were expecting the sort of rousing reception we received, as you always do in Wollongong,” Mitchell said.

“They are very parochial supporters, and I don’t think that is going to change.

“It is obviously difficult to go into any hostile environment for any basketball player.

“Some people elevate and play the role of the villain and for some people it is going to take some adjustment time.

“Whether it is Mitch or anybody else in our basketball team, I just want us all to be focused on the job at hand.”

The NBL still has the authority to reverse their position on Creek depending on the outcome of his court hearing on April 21.

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