Kings outlast Breakers to claim fifth NBL championship
The Sydney Kings have claimed back-to-back NBL championships, after defeating New Zealand 77-69 on Wednesday night - in front of an all-time NBL crowd record of 18,124 fans at Qudos Bank Arena.
Derrick Walton Jr took out Finals MVP in the victory, which helped the Hoops Capital club claim its fifth NBL title.
Walton Jr and Will McDowell-White traded triples to open the game, with the latter sparking nine straight points for the Breakers. Combine that run, and the fact the Kings committed the first five fouls of the encounter, and the visitors led 12-5 midway through the period – which quickly extended to 18-7. Despite some inspired play by Angus Glover, the Kings still trailed 22-11 after one quarter.
The scoring didn’t come any easier in the second for the Kings, as New Zealand started on an 8-5 run, as the lead blew out to double-digits. Behind more strong play by Glover, NBL23 MVP Xavier Cooks and Walton Jr, the Hoops Capital side ended the period on an 8-2 run, to go into half-time down 36-35.
After the main break, Michigan native Walton Jr started to cook, serving up sharp dimes to both Cooks and Kouat Noi, as the Kings regained the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. Barry Brown Jr then energised the Breakers, scoring nine of his side’s 20 points during the 10-minute period – as the two sides went into three-quarter-time all tied up at 56-all.
The visitors gained the ascendency in the fourth, scoring 10 of the first 13 points, to lead 66-59 with just over six to play. But five straight points from bench wing Glover, including a hustle rebound and dunk, made it a one-possession game (66-64) with 4.29 to play – before Walton Jr evened the ledger with a deep jumper. Soon after, a Cooks and-one made it 69-66. Walton Jr had ice in his veins down the stretch, drilling six straight points to seal the eight-point win.
Where the match was decided
The grand final was set up by statistical wins in field goal percentage (47-40), rebounds (40-33), points in the paint (48-34), second chance points (13-4) and points off turnovers (13-4).
Heading into the last quarter, the game was there for the taking for both sides, but the Kings outscored their opponents 21-13 to claim the title.
Check out Chase Buford and Derrick Walton Jr's post-game press conference above, via our Sydney Kings' YouTube channel. While you're there, be sure to hit subscribe, to ensure you never miss out on any of our great videos.
Player of the game
Walton Jr, crowned Finals MVP, finished the game with a team-high 21 points, six assists and three rebounds.
He was well-supported by NBA-bound Cooks (19 points, 11 boards and two dimes), Glover (12 points and nine rebounds) and Noi (11 points and two steals).