Kings fall to fast-finishing Phoenix at Blitz
A second-half comeback by the South East Melbourne Phoenix has seen the Sydney Kings lose their opening NBL Blitz fixture 93-86 on Monday.
Mike Kelly's Phoenix trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half but fought back to win the Gold Coast encounter.
Athletic wing Jaylin Galloway started the match on fire for the Kings, scoring his team’s first seven points, including a thunderous jam. The next four were then scored by NBL Next Star Alex Toohey in his Sydney debut, as the purple and gold raced out to a 15-7 lead. Strong bench contributions at the end of the term by Kouat Noi and Angus Glover ensured the two-time reigning champions led 28-19 at the first break.
In the second term, starting centre Jordan Hunter proved difficult to contain on the offensive end, both scoring and providing assists for his teammates. Toohey rattled off five quick points, to push the Hoops Capital side’s lead into double digits. Timely buckets by Jonah Bolden (his first in Kings colours) and Shaun Bruce helped Mahmod Abdelfattah’s side lead 51-40 at half-time.
Scores by Galloway, Bruce, Denzel Valentine and Hunter saw the Kings score the third quarter’s first 11 points – seeing the lead balloon to 21. The latter rattled off six straight by himself before Gary Browne caught fire for the Phoenix - scoring 14 points in six minutes as South East Melbourne went on a 21-8 run and made it 73-68 at the final change.
Phoenix big man Tyler Cook made it a one-point game with just under eight minutes to play before two free-throws by the American gave them the lead for the first time since the opening term. More long bombs by Browne stretched the lead to six midway through he period but thankfully for the Kings, Valentine hit two clutch threes from the top of the arc to put a halt to the opposition’s momentum. But a late, contested basket by Cook and free-throws by Ben Ayre sealed the comeback win for the Phoenix.
Where the match was decided
The Kings lost the match despite winning the statistical categories of rebounds (46-38), assists (23-9), points in the paint (46-36), and fast-break points (19-12) - while losing both the free-throw (62-46 per cent), turnovers (18-12) and points off turnovers (35-12).
The Phoenix, sparked by Cook (29 points) and Brown (26), 53-35 in the second half.
Player of the game
Two-time NBL champion Jaylin Galloway hit his first shots of the contest, helping him finish the Blitz opener with 18 points, five boards, four dimes and three steals.
Other Kings to reach double figures were Valentine (17) and Toohey (12).
Watch coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah break down the Kings' NBL Blitz game with South East Melbourne via Sydney Kings' YouTube channel above. While you're there, be sure to hit subscribe, to ensure you never miss out on any of our great videos.
Abdelfattah’s side will now shift their attention to Wednesday’s Blitz fixture with Melbourne United at the Gold Coast – tipping off at 7.30pm.
Once again, the pre-season fixture will be broadcast live on Kayo Freebies.