It was raining threes as the Sydney Kings scored a stunning 101-86 comeback victory over finals-bound New Zealand Breakers in front of more than 8,411 at Qudos Bank Arena.
Kings starting guard Jason Cadee put on a devastating shooting display in the fourth quarter, dropping five three pointers and 17 fourth quarter points to complete the comeback and deliver Sydney their sixth win in seven games.
After trailing throughout the first three quarters, Sydney finally cranked up the tempo with successive baskets and defensive stops to level the score at 68-68 all by the end of the third. In the fourth quarter, Cadee erupted with three consecutive bombs to change the momentum of the game for good.
“We fixed that up in the second half and kept them under 40, and then Jason caught fire and was seeing the basket like it was a hula hoop, and the guys did a good job of getting him the ball,” said Sydney coach Andrew Gaze.
The insertion of rookie forward Dane Pineau alongside import Perry Ellis in the starting lineup gave Sydney more athleticism and length as they battled hard inside against the physical presence of New Zealand’s Rakeem Christmas, Robert Loe, Tom Abercrombie and Mika Vukona.
Randle, Blanchfield and bench mob Brad Newley and captain Kevin Lisch were in rhythm throughout the game. They kept looking for Cadee, who had the hot hand in in the fourth.
Cadee led all scorers with 30 points, hitting 66% of his shots. He also shot 60% from the three point line (6/10) and hit all eight of his free throws. Todd Blanchfield had 19 points while Jerome Randle delivered an all around performance with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, a block and steal for the Kings. Jordan Ngatai’s 17 lead the Breakers.
The Breakers outrebounded Sydney 43-38, but the Kings shot better with a remarkable 59% field goal clip against New Zealand’s 45% shooting.
Sydney finished 7th overall on the NBL Ladder with an 11-17 record. Despite missing out again on the playoffs, the Kings avoided taking the wooden spoon, which fell to Brisbane Bullets for a second consecutive season. New Zealand drops back to 4th overall but are now playoff-bound along with Melbourne United, Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats.
This moral victory gives Sydney plenty of positives heading into the offseason as they consider ways to bolster their energised roster.
SYDNEY KINGS 101 (Cadee 30, Blanchfield 19, Randle 18, Newley 10, Lisch 9, Garlepp 6, Pineau 4, Ellis 3, Thoseby 2, Singh, Malone, Acouth 0) def. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 86 (Ngatai 17, Ili 13, Christmas 13, Loe 13, Abercrombie 11, Newbill 11, Vukona 6, Delany 2, Sosa 0)