Galloway's Kings aim to halt Hawks' resurgance
Written by AAP's Jasper Bruce
Jaylin Galloway says a win in Sydney's crucial clash with Illawarra would be doubly sweet if it dented their bitter rivals' own NBL finals hopes.
Even after last week's loss to the desperate Adelaide 36ers, the finals equation is simple for the Kings, who entered the penultimate round of the regular season in fifth place on the ladder.
Beat Illawarra and South East Melbourne across the next two weekends and a top-six finish is all but guaranteed, given their superior for-and-against.
That would give Sydney a pass to the play-in tournament, where they would jostle with three other teams for one of two spots in the final four.
But the Kings' hopes of a play-in berth, and the chance to hunt a third consecutive NBL title, will rely on other results falling their way should they lose one or both of their next two games.
"We know we've got a big game coming up," forward Galloway told AAP.
Sunday's home clash with the resurgent Hawks looms as the bigger challenge of the Kings' final two games.
Under interim coach Justin Tatum, Illawarra have gone from easybeats across the opening two months of the season to play-in contenders themselves.
Their finals fate will remain in their own hands for the last round of the regular season whether they win or lose to Sydney.
But Galloway said the chance to knock their rivals off balance before finals would provide the Kings with extra motivation heading into the weekend.
"Most definitely," he said.
"I feel like it's always great to beat the Hawks. Sydney and Illawarra is the [NBL's] biggest rivalry so it's definitely good to give them a loss.
"It's definitely good what they've done with their season, how they've turned it around.
"Hopefully we can put a stop to their run on Sunday."
Hampered by shoulder injuries in what was tipped to be his breakout campaign, Galloway is feeling fit as the season approaches its climax.
"It'd be better if I had no injuries," he said.
"(But) this is my first season where I've played actual, impactful minutes, so it's certainly still a learning experience.
"(The season) has definitely been one of the major turning points in my career."
Tickets to the Adrian Hurley Cup clash at Qudos Bank Arena are still available here.