Kings put one hand on the throne with game two triumph
THE Sydney Kings have moved one step closer to the 2021/22 National Basketball League (NBL) championship, after downing the Tasmania JackJumpers in game two of the grand final series on Sunday afternoon. A sold-out MyState Bank Arena attended the crucial second game after the Kings broke away in the second half of game one to take a 1-0 lead. There was plenty on the line for the JackJumpers, with no side ever coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win it all, but with League MVP Jaylen Adams missing through a hamstring injury, it was the perfect opportunity to bounce back and tie things up.
You would be mistaken for thinking there were 100,000 fans in MyState Bank Arena with the way Tassie fans had the place rocking, and the home side used that to their advantage in the first term. The JackJumpers took an early double-digit lead, but it was erased in extraordinary fashion, as the Kings opened the second quarter on a 14-0 run. Suddenly, it was game on and the second half was played out in extremely tense fashion. Much of the final two quarters saw the game tied, and it wasn’t until Dejan Vasiljevic delivered some massive buckets in the clutch that the game was decided, with Sydney emerging four-point winners.
Tasmania JackJumpers (86) def. by Sydney Kings (90)
The JackJumpers got off to a fantastic start, with guards Josh Adams and Josh Magette seemingly overcoming their game one struggles to knock down some early buckets. With no Jaylen Adams, the Kings looked to move the ball inside the paint and use their bigs in Xavier Cooks and Jarell Martin. However, the shooting of Tasmania was superior in the first 10 minutes and they took a 10-point lead into the first break. Things were looking good for the home side, but Sydney flipped the script to open the second term, registering 14 unanswered points to open the quarter and taking full control of the momentum. A late three to former King Jarrad Weeks gave Tasmania a four-point advantage at the main break, setting up a thrilling second half.
Sydney’s work inside the paint improved in the third quarter, as they managed to tie things up in the first few minutes of the term. From there, the lead changed hands a number of times, with neither side able to truly grab control of the contest. Both teams headed to the free throw line quite a bit, and a couple of late shots from there from Fabijan Krslovic saw the JackJumpers up two with a quarter to play. The final 10 minutes was just as tense, and while it looked like the Kings had pulled off the comeback with a four-point lead with 40 seconds to go, Tasmania was not giving up that easily. A circus three from Josh Adams brought them back within a point with plenty of time on the clock. However, his effort was bested by Vasiljevic, who nailed a deep three with 10 seconds remaining, sealing the win with one of the most clutch shots we have seen in season 2021/22.
The big three of Vasiljevic, Cooks and Martin ultimately proved the difference, with the trio producing 20 points each and getting the Kings over the line in the end. Vasiljevic was massive in the clutch, while Cooks and Martin both delivered another double-double, combining for 21 rebounds on top of their impressive work on the offensive end of the court. Josh Adams could not have done much more for the JackJumpers, overcoming an injury concern early in the game to set a new season-high for himself with 36 points. Unfortunately, it was not enough as he did not have enough consistent help during the offensive sets.
Sydney now has the chance to win it all at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night, while the JackJumpers will be eager to extend the series and keep their season alive.