X-Man Cooks Melbourne in blowout win

THE NATIONAL Basketball League (NBL)’s reigning Grand Final MVP has delivered another big performance, with Xavier Cooks dominating Melbourne United as the Sydney Kings dominated on their way to a 20-point win on Sunday afternoon.

With Derrick Walton Jr. dominating the headlines in the past week thanks to his powerful debut performance, Cooks snuck under the radar a bit, but the big man reminded everyone of his capabilities against United.

He was at his best at John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon, hurting the opposition with his efficiency with ball in hand and ability to roll to the hoop and score inside was too much for a United side that was undermanned in the big man department.

Xavier Cooks vs. United – 26 min, 23 points, nine rebounds, one steal, one block

What makes Cooks’ performance so impressive was the fact that he did it in just 26 minutes of play, needing no time at all to make his mark on the contest.

He started the match with a nice finger roll after Dejan Vasiljevic found him rolling to the hoop, and when the Kings broke away from the opposition in the final minute of the opening quarter, Cooks was well and truly involved.

His shooting form looked as comfortable as it had ever been, especially from behind the arc. When Justin Simon found Cooks in the corner, many expected him to drive inside the paint, where he is at his best. However, the big man instead showed no hesitation to fire one off from deep, with his shot falling as Sydney’s lead extended. It was one of his three triples on five attempts.

Shortly after, Cooks whipped up one of the moments of the year. On the fast break, Vasiljecvic once again looked for the cutting big man, who was storming up the court with some serious pace. Cooks caught the ball in stride and had one thing on his mind, as he rose up, cocked the ball back in his right arm, and threw down a dunk that was heard around the country. Despite Isaac Humphries‘ best efforts, Cooks absorbed the body contact and dunked all over the Melbourne big man’s head. The cherry on top was the play being ruled a foul too, so Cooks was sent to the free throw line for another point. It was the best dunk we have seen in 2022 to date, and gave Sydney an even bigger boost.

Cooks’ confidence carried into the second half, and the big man was once again a factor for the Kings. Ever-reliable on the glass, Cooks controlled the skies on the defensive end, with eight of his nine coming after a missed opposition shot. When United managed to finally equalise the contest in the second half, Cooks was still a headache for Melbourne defensively, using his size and wingspan to back down United’s big men in the paint.

While there were bigger statlines over the course of the weekend, few had the impact that Cooks did in a big matchup, and he should play a massive role as Sydney works towards back to back titles.

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