Illawarra Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge made the blunt assessment of his team after they got destroyed by the Sydney Kings 90-73 at Qudos Bank Arena on Monday night.
“Spineless,” said an exasperated Beveridge.
Defence killed Illawarra’s spirit as Aleks Maric, Kevin Lisch, Brad Newley and Greg Whittington set the tone for the whole night. Eighteen times the Kings stole the ball from the Hawks, with six coming from Lisch, four from Newley and three from Whittington.
Sydney won back to back games against Illawarra in front of 4,000 fans for the first time since the 2014/15 season and are on their longest winning streak since the 2013/14 campaign.
“This is not the same Illawarra Hawks team that played last season. We need to all have a good look at ourselves in the mirror, ” added Beveridge.
Sydney’s ball movement was absolutely breathtaking at times in the first period. The highlight of the opening quarter was a spectacular no-look behind the back pass from Lisch to Jason Cadee for the corner triple . The game was close earlier on as both teams traded baskets, but Sydney built an eight-point lead by halftime.
The third quarter proved to be decisive as Sydney lifted their efforts and outscored the Hawks with a 25-6 blitz. Every possession was contested as Kings head coach Andrew Gaze and assistant coach Dean Vickerman clapped and cheered from the sideline. The Kings led by as many as 29 points as they came up with a record of 11 steals for the quarter. It was game over by then.
Kings head coach Andrew Gaze praised his frontline for their defensive efforts all night. Greg Whittington in particular continued to fill up the stat sheet with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 three-pointers and just 1 turnover. His hawk-like defence helped limit Illawarra’s Rotnei Clarke to just 12 points.
“The way they are applying themselves on the defensive end is the difference. I was really happy with the performance,” said Gaze.
Newley scored 20 points, Lisch added 19 and Cadee dropped 14 for Sydney. The Hawks were led by AJ Ogilvy with 20 points.
Sydney welcomes new import Steve Blake on Sunday October 30 as they brace for a grudge match against the Brisbane Bullets.
News, notes and quotes:
- Sydney’s halftime show was an amazing hula hoop display from Cirque du Soleil.
- Rookies Bo Liu and Craig Moller got court time towards the end of the fourth quarter. Fans cheered every time Bo touched the basketball.
- Sydney Kings Legend Brad Dalton was a special guest for the evening.
- Spotted on the court – three former Sydney Kings players started the match for the Illawarra Hawks – AJ Ogilvy, Kevin White and Cody Ellis.