Kings shed NBL crumbler tag - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kings shed NBL crumbler tag

By Guy Hand 08/03/2003 10:00:03 PM Comments (0)

The Sydney Kings are no longer the Violet Crumbles.

The Melbourne Tigers hit the Kings with everything they could in Saturday night's opening national basketball league playoff game at the State Netball Centre - and all they found was a rock-solid centre.

The Kings won a high-octane, hot-tempered match of rare quality 101-89 - a match which could have gone either way until midway through the final quarter.

Then the Kings, led predictably by Shane Heal, unleashed a three-point blitz to take control of the sort of match which has so often eluded a franchise questioned for its ability under pressure in the past.

Kings coach Brian Goorjian said the victory would go a long way to getting respect for the team, which won the minor premiership and eight of its last nine games going into the best-of-three finals series.

"We've got this tag or not having the juice, not being tough enough. But we weren't going to back off," Goorjian said.

"Tonight all those trademarks I wanted - being relentless, not backing off, everyone coming in and contributing - I thought it was perfect for our first game of the playoffs."

Tigers coach Lindsay Gaze said Heal's final quarter performance was the difference and believed his team could level the series against the odds at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Monday night.

"I thought it was a very good contest and it was going down to the wire, then I thought the team that made the next couple of baskets early in the final quarter would have a huge advantage.

"Shane came out, made a couple of threes. The game was over."

Kings shooting guard Kavossy Franklin, who left the court in the final quarter, said he only had calf cramps and would be fit for Monday night.

If the Kings were going to live up to their cruel nickname the Violet Crumbles, they had plenty of opportunities to do so as the Andrew Gaze-led Tigers hammered the Kings relentlessly.

Tempers frayed regularly, the lead changed hands 10 times in the third quarter, Heal spent virtually all the final term parked on five fouls and the Tigers locked up the game at 73-73 with 9min20sec remaining.

Then Heal broke the game open, landing two clutch threes to break the deadlock, finishing with 25 points on six of 10 three-point shooting.

Bench man David Stiff was also outstanding with 18 points and 11 rebounds, as the Kings outrebounded the Tigers 51-44.

Gaze top-scored for the Tigers with 25 points.

Game two of the series will be held at Sydney Entertainment Centre on Monday night, with a third game if required in Sydney next Saturday.

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