The Sydney Kings continued their winning ways with another sizzling 87-78 come from behind victory against the Brisbane Bullets.
Superstar import Steve Blake debuted at the Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday and was instrumental in assisting his new teammates to secure their fifth straight win and cementing the Kings on top of the NBL ladder.
In a game where the Kings were without team captain Kevin Lisch, Boomers veteran Brad Newley grabbed the scoring reigns with both hands a finished with an impressive 29 point, 8-rebound performance.
The game was sweet revenge for the Kings after losing their season opener at home the last time they faced Brisbane. This game however, Sydney City was buzzing with the arrival of NBA star Steve Blake who didn’t disappoint.
Blake was inserted into the starting lineup by Kings head coach Andrew Gaze after Lisch suffered a calf injury at training during the week. Straight onto the hot seat and into the fire, Blake logged in 36 minutes and delivered 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and two 3-pointers.
“I had a lot of fun. The fans were great, the guys on the team played with a lot of heart, the coach puts us in the right position to be successful. I couldn’t have asked for anything better for a first night, ” said Blake.
It wasn’t just about the stats that got the 6,519 fans excited, but more about the intangibles that Blake had to offer. His poise, toughness, hustle-play and leadership could define the character of this star-studded Kings team that already boasts four Australian Boomers, three American imports, two NBA stars and one up-and-coming Chinese international.
Blake, the savvy 36-year old NBA veteran who has played with and against a “whose who” of NBA legends. Blake suited up for eight clubs over 13 illustrious seasons and shared the court with global icons Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. This time around, he was wearing the familiar purple and gold colours of the Sydney Kings 15,175kms away from home.
Despite the Kings trailing early in the 1st quarter by 8 points, Blake steadied the ship and threw an alley-oop to athletic wing Greg Whittington to break the ice three minutes into the ballgame. Blake continued to set up his teammates, utilising big man Aleks Maric on pick-and-rolls and finding the sweet-shooting Newley with a crosscourt pass to nail a timely three-pointer.
It took Blake another quarter before he hit his first jump shot of the game. A four-point deficit at the end of the 1st quarter soon turned into a seven-point halftime lead, 36-29. Sydney never looked back.
Blake mused, ” I felt comfortable as the game wore on, but I can’t lie – I was a little bit nervous going out there. New place, new opponents, guys I have never played with against before, playing with new guys, sometimes you tend to overthink things. I think it will just get better and better as we go.”
The Kings were powered home by Newley’s 29 and enforcer Josh Powell’s bruising 16 points off the bench, while Brisbane were led by Torrey Craig with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Andrew Gaze, off to the second-best start in history for a Kings’ coach on debut after the legendary Brian Goorjian, could possibly have the added luxury of a well-rested Lisch and returning centre Julian Khazzouh to his deep roster by next week.
Sydney will be up against the Cairns Taipans in a home and away double in Round 5. They travel to Cairns next Saturday before heading home for a date with the Taipans the following Monday at Qudos Bank Arena.