Kings lose Adrian Hurley Cup clash to Hawks
Written by Charlotte Austin
The Sydney Kings' championship defence is hanging on by a thread after suffering a 106-95 loss to the Illawarra Hawks at Qudos Bank Arena.
Despite the 11-point defeat, played in front of the club's second-biggest crowd of NBL24 (14,832 fans), the Kings retained the Adrian Hurley Cup for the second-straight season.
Illawarra ran out with a five-point lead, matched with force from Angus Glover and Jordi Hunter. The Hawks attempted to soar ahead, though the game remained tied thanks to contributions from Jaylen Adams and Hunter. Six points from Gary Clark had the Hawks up by eight before William Hickey made it a double-digit game. Three points for Jaylin Galloway pushed it back to single figures, following contributions from Todd Blanchfield and Justin Robinson. Two from Hyunjung Lee marked the end of the first, the Kings trailing by 14 (31-17).
Adams opened up the second for the Kings, met quickly by Sam Froling and Lee. Three from Galloway and a layup from Alex Toohey crawled the Kings back into the game, though the Hawks proved untameable, stretching their lead to 20. Uninterrupted triples from Jonah Bolden and Valentine saw the gap closing, with Adams bridging the gap back under 10. Traded threes between Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and Valentine kept the gap stable. Fouls closed the second, the Kings entering halftime down by 13 (59-46).
Three from Swaka Lo Buluk saw the Hawks building the gap back up, before contributions from DJ Hogg and Hunter knocked it down slightly. A layup and three from Bolden kept hopes alive, following strong pushback from Illawarra, that kept the game in the doubles. Blanchfield and Hickey put up baskets to see the Hawks flying ahead to a 15-point lead. Galloway and Adams continued to clutch up for the purple and gold, working to close the gap. A last-second three from Lee, saw Sydney down by 14 going into the final minutes (79-65).
Hunter came with an early three-point play to put the Kings back on the board before Hogg put up three to draw the gap to eight. Fouls in the Hawks' favour pushed it back to 10, the Kings struggling to close the gap back up. Froling put up two for the Hawks, matched quickly by Hogg to stabilise the gap. Five points for Valentine went uncelebrated, as Robinson fought to push the Kings back. Valentine and Adams pulled through, the gap at seven with just a minute left. Efforts from Hunter and Hogg were shut down by Harvey, Illawarra walking away with an 11-point win over the Kings (106-95).
Where the match was decided
The Hawks secured their second consecutive Freeway Series win on the back of superior numbers in rebounds (44-36), assists (26-19), points from turnovers (17-9) and fastbreak points (20-6).
The Hawks came in strong for the second quarter, with their twenty-point lead speaking volumes, as Sydney was playing catch-up from their point onwards.
Player of the game
Denzel Valentine paced the Hoops Capital side with 21 points, four assists and five rebounds, with fellow import guard Adams adding 18 points, seven dimes, three boards and two steals.
Others to score in double-figures for the purple and gold Galloway (15), Hunter (13) and Hogg (11).
Watch Mahmoud Abdelfattah and Jordi Hunter's press conference via the 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.
Mahmoud Abdelfattah's troops, who are now 12-15, travel to South East Melbourne on Saturday to try and keep their season alive.
A win against the Phoenix, combined with other favourable results by other teams, could see the currently seventh-placed Kings sneak into the postseason.
The round 20 fixture tips off at 7.30pm AEDT on Saturday night - broadcast on ESPN via Kayo Sports.