Game of Thrones; Kings go back to back
IN a fitting conclusion to NBL23, the Sydney Kings have claimed their second consecutive title after producing a stirring comeback to defeat the New Zealand Breakers in game five of the Championship Series.
The Kings were tested by a red hot start from the Breakers, and trailed by as much as seven points in the final term. However, sparked by an inspirational performance from Angus Glover, the home side clawed its way back into the game in front of a record NBL crowd at Spark Arena, and stormed home to an eight-point triumph.
For the Kings, Derrick Walton Jr was awarded the Larry Sengstock Trophy for the Championship MVP, capping off an eye-catching five-game stretch with a terrific performance in the decider. He poured in a team-high 21 points (6/12 FG, 8/9 FT), nailing some massive shots down the stretch and playing a massive role in sealing the result of the game. He also added three rebounds and six assists in a best-on performance.
Glover etched his name into folklore in game five, playing through a serious rib injury sustained throughout the match to give his side a much-needed spark. Despite clearly suffering some discomfort, he produced an array of crucial baskets when the Breakers held a potentially match-winning lead. Instead, the cult hero fired off some big buckets on his way to 12 points and nine rebounds.
In his last NBL game, Xavier Cooks made sure he went out with a bang, not only holding up a second consecutive championship trophy, but delivering an excellent performance in the process. The NBL MVP finished with 19 points (8/12 FG) and 11 rebounds in an outstanding double-double before heading over to join the Washington Wizards in the NBA.
The Breakers were valiant in defeat, and were seven minutes away from lifting up the hardware themselves. Barry Brown Jr. was his typical high-scoring self, over coming some inaccuracy from behind the arc to still finish with a game-high 22 points, which was boosted by 7/11 FG from two-point territory.
Forward Jarrell Brantley showcased that the bank was open on his way to 16 points, nailing some impressive three-pointers when New Zealand looked to make a match-winning run. Rising star of the competition William McDowell-White also caught the eye, leading from the front when the Breakers got off to a hot start, and finished the match with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Kings’ victory has cemented their status as one of the best sides of the last decade, and the decorated club capped off a dominant season with a terrific comeback.