THE National Basketball League (NBL) grand final series kicked off on Friday night, with game one seeing the powerhouse of the last few months reigning supreme. Fans at Qudos Bank Arena were treated to the first game between the Sydney Kings and the Tasmania JackJumpers, with plenty of hype surrounding the matchup coming in. It was described as a battle between the competition’s form team and the league fairytale.
There was plenty of intrigue heading into the game, whether it was surrounding the lineup battle or the strategies of the two coaches, and it was living up to the hype at the start of the game. It was a closely fought affair in the first half, with the Kings jumping out to an early lead, but the JackJumpers fought back to make it a three-point game at the main break of play.
However, the class of the Kings was able to shine through in the third quarter, producing a pretty dominant display to take a double-digit lead into the final term, where they were able to cruise home to a 17-point win. Despite the victory, Sydney will be sweating on the availability of league MVP Jaylen Adams, who injured his hamstring late in the third and was unable to play out the rest of the game.
Sydney Kings (95) def. Tasmania JackJumpers (78)
The Kings started the game in ripping form, scoring the first five points of the game. Their opponents were able to draw level in the minutes that followed, with the starters from both sides firing from the field. Sydney started to fire from beyond the arc, and while Tasmania was able to produce buckets down the other end, the lack of accuracy from downtown saw the Kings take a four-point advatage into the second half. The story was more of the same in the second, with the home side jumping out to a seven-point advantage in the first few minutes, but Tassie showed more of the fight that has served it well throughout the postseason, and rallied behind its skipper in Clint Steindl to make it a three-point game at the main break.
With plenty of anticipation coming out of half time, Sydney was able to take full control of the contest in the third quarter. Their big guns in Adams, Jarell Martin and Ian Clark delivering some consistent offence as the lead jumped out to 13 points at the final change. However, there was some bad news, as Adams began to grab at his hamstring, and coming out of three-quarter time, had it on ice. It created an opportunity for Tasmania to fight back in the last, but the Kings managed to deliver one of their best offensive terms of the game and cruised home to victory.
Despite limited minutes, Adams led the points column with 18 in just 22 minutes on the court, but all eyes will be on his availability for the next couple of games. Clark was great with 17 of his own, and is bringing some serious veteran presence to an already talented Kings side, while Cooks stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 11 boards and seven dimes. MiKyle McIntosh and Jack McVeigh both registered 14 points each for the JackJumpers, but it was not enough.
Game two will take place at MyState Bank Arena tomorrow afternoon.