Kings go back-to-back after epic NBL finals win as fan’s ‘disgraceful’ act slammed

As a famous man famously said, the winner is Sydney.

And, as it was when Juan Antonio Samaranch announced the host city of the Games of the 2000 Olympiad, so it was at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night when the Sydney Kings stormed home over New Zealand Breakers 77-69 in the deciding game five of the NBA’s 2023 Championship Series.

Derrick Walton Jr had 21 points, six assists and three rebounds in a player of the match performance to go with claiming series MVP honours, while the inspirational Angus Glover battled injury to tally 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting.

He called it: “Unbelievable. To do what we’ve done this year, I mean, look at this place, it’s f***ing rocking! Sorry about my language.”

Having become back-to-back champions, he roared to a triumphant crowd: “We’re going for three!”

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Xavier Cooks of the Kings showed why he’s heading to the NBA.Source: Getty Images


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In front of a record-breaking crowd for the second time in a week, it was a game for the ages, marred only by a controversial refereeing call leading to a water bottle being tossed onto the court by a spectator.

Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze declared in commentary: “That’s disgraceful. That’s just completely unacceptable.”

“Show a bit of class,” he added.

Fellow commentator Jack Heverin said fans have “gotta be better than that. Emotions running high”.

Nevertheless, it was some game. Some entertainment. And some win over a Breakers side that was undaunted, skilful and full of hard-nosed basketball players who left nothing on the court but sweat and skin.

Mainly it was fabulous entertainment. The DJ’s bass beats bounced about. The decibel level was off the charts.

And the sold out, all-time NBL record crowd of 18,124 rode every play.

What a game.

Angus Glover pushed through the pain barrier during an inspired performance. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

It began like this: League MVP Xavier Cooks won the tip-off but the Breakers won the ball then fluffed their first ping at goal. Derrick Walton Jnr retorted with the game’s first three pointer and the roar was like the people’s favourite had won the Golden Slipper.

The Breakers answered. They did it all night.

Will McDowell-White landed a three and Dererk Pardon slammed in a dunk. When he ally-ooped a second one it was Breakers by six.

Angus Glover got busy. Jordan Hunter missed a jump shot after the ball did a full lap of the rim. The Breakers burned a coach’s challenge.

At quarter time the Breakers led 22-11.

The second period was a dogfight, punctuated by frenetic, arm-waving defence and Glover’s booming three-pointer that was the loudest roar of the night until then.

Walton Jnr was named player of the match. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

There would be louder ones.

When Walton Jnr was tripped attempting a lay-up, Kings owners Andrew Bogut and Paul Smith nearly stormed the court.

The Kings shooting was off. Shots that had swished in during the regular season as they recorded so many double-figure victories bounced out.

Then Cooks, the best player in a league with affectations as the world’s second-best after the NBA, did what he’d done all season: own it.

He tipped in for two. He drove for another couple. At half-time it was Breakers by three. Cooks began the third quarter the same way. A mighty drive and dunk lifted the roof.

Kouat Noi made a strong lay-up and faced the crowd all the way down the court, nodding to the people and smiling his very head off.

Yet the Breakers would not go away. And after three sweaty, noisy, passionate periods, it was 56-all.

And into the roiling, cruel sea of the final 10 minutes we went.

Jarrell Brantley was on fire for the Breakers but the Kings proved too good in the end. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Noi made a three for Sydney. Jarrell Brantley for New Zealand. It was raining threes, if not men.

Cooks came back on. Sydney went to him. The Breakers fouled him. It was Breakers by seven.

Glover, his knee no good, made a massive, turning point play: a shot for three hit the side of the board, bounced back into his arms before he stormed in for a dunk.

Then he nailed a three. And the roof nearly came off. Breakers by two. Time-out.

Walton Jnr tied it up with 3:46 to play. When Cooks tipped in to go ahead by two and Walton Jnr laid up and the Kings went out to seven point lead, ears just about bled. They’d scored the last 13 points.

The clock ticked down. The fans exalted. Walton Jnr put the ball on the ground and nodded to the fans. Sports writers breathed out.

What a game. The winner was Sydney. Basketball, too.

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