Revenge was sweet for an injury-hit Sydney Kings as they registered a milestone 99-91 NBL victory over the Cairns Taipans on Saturday night.
Still smarting from a controversial one-point loss to Cairns last week, imports Casper Ware and Jarell Martin inspired a victory that will no doubt be remembered by the Kings for some time.
Besides registering their first win of the season, the Kings (1-1) also notched victory No.500 for the franchise since their 1988 inception and marked new coach Adam Forde’s maiden triumph.
Classy guard Ware only had two points by halftime but finished with 22 as did former NBA Draft first round pick Martin despite being on limited minutes. Former Memphis forward Martin also picked up 11 rebounds in less than 24 minutes court time.
It was a shot in the arm for last season’s minor premiers who were hit by another injury after bench guard Angus Glover broke down late in the second term with a knee complaint.
Glover has already undergone three reconstructions in his budding career.
He joins a Kings injury list that also includes big names Xavier Cooks, Daniel Kickert and Didi Louzada.
Their depth had already been put to the test after losing Boomers great Andrew Bogut and captain Kevin Lisch (retirement) plus Jae’Sean Tate (NBA) in the off-season.
Another injury could have deflated a Kings outfit that has been away from home since Boxing Day due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Instead they gained redemption against the Taipans who won their last round clash after Ware was controversially denied two free throws at the death.
“The win says a lot (about) … the collective spirit of this team. It’s tough being away from your family,” Forde said.
“We are still early days in what we are capable of doing, that is the most exciting thing for me.”
Last season’s semi-finalists the Taipans (1-2) suffered back-to-back home losses for the first time since January 13, 2019.
The Kings led 23-22 at the first break and 46-37 at halftime but Cairns went on a 15-2 run in the third to cut the deficit to 72-71 by the final interval.
The hosts though were in trouble after inspirational guard Scott Machado (14 points, nine assists) fouled out with more than five minutes left on the clock.
Cam Oliver (27 points, 10 rebounds) did his best to inspire the Taipans including an early Dunk of the Year contender, but it wasn’t enough.
“We played against a Kings team that was in attack mode and made shots,” Taipans coach Mike Kelly said.