NBL21: Sydney Kings lose 100th clash with Illawarra Hawks

February 19, 1988: legendary point guard Steve Carfino leads the Sydney Kings with 24 points in their first-ever clash with fellow NBL great Chuck Harmison (22) and the Illawarra Hawks.

On that day at the State Sports Centre, Homebush, the Kings, in just their second-ever NBL game, topped the Hawks, 103-95.

Flash forward 31 years and, nearly 900km away at John Cain Arena in Melbourne, the Kings fell apart in the third quarter, gifting the Hawks an 89-69 victory in the 100th meeting between the two NSW teams.

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Dejan Vasiljevic was the only King in double digits. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

After going shot-for-shot with the Hawks in the first half, the Kings, in a disastrous third, turned the ball over five times and scored just 8 points on two-of-13 from the field, while leaking 25 at the other end to enter the final break down 18.

A furious Adam Forde implored his charges to lift late in the third, calling on them to “make a run now and try to make this a ball game, otherwise we ice it and prepare for f**king Brisbane”.

It didn’t work as the amped up defence of the Hawks held the Kings to their lowest score of the season.

Just as Harmison did back in the day, Hawks big man Sam Froling got rolling, making his first nine shots on his way to 20 points, while import Tyler Harvey had 17 and Justinian Jessup 15.

Hawks big man Sam Froling had a career night against the Kings. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Sydney could not find a Carfino to stand up for them, rookie Dejan Vasiljevic the only King to look dangerous when it counted with 12 points — no one else managed double digits.

“That was just a real bad beat,” Forde said after the match.

“We just looked out of sorts.

“Everybody was guilty of it.

“It wasn’t great. They just opened up the floodgates in that third quarter and we got run over.

“It was just a bad game by us, it was a really bad game.”

With import Jarell Martin’s return from injury, it was a new-look Kings’ starting lineup, Forde turning to rangy Brazilian Didi Louzada to lock down Hawks’ scoring machine Harvey, moving Craig Moller and Shaun Bruce back to the bench.

Didi Louzada was deployed to tackle Hawk Tyler Harvey.Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The Kings blew a chance to leapfrog the Hawks on the NBL regular-season ladder and now face an uphill battle to finish on the podium of the $300,000 NBL Cup tournament.

Before the win over the Kings, the Hawks had lost their mojo, losing six of last nine — after a 4-0 start.

Man of the moment Froling was pleased with the fightback.

“We’ve been in a bit of a slump so we came in today really wanting to move the ball, really wanting to run and get stops,” Froling said.

Both teams close their NBL Cup campaigns Saturday, the Kings against the rejuvenated Brisbane Bullets and the Hawks against wounded Melbourne United.

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It was a dirty night for Casper Ware. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Casper Ware did his best Damien Lillard-NBA All-Star game impersonation in the first quarter when he spotted up from just inside the halfway line and dropped a ludicrous trey. He backed that up by curling off a screen for a second consecutive bucket from deep, but he would not score for the rest of the game in a dirty day for the veteran import.

Jarell Martin was a welcome sight for the Kings, even if he was on a minutes restriction. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Bull Martin ploughed into the key, bullocking Sam Froling out of the way with his frame and laying in for his first bucket on return from six games on the pine with a knee injury.

He did it again in the second quarter, sizing up Froling again, putting the ball on the floor and spinning to the hole, leaving the Hawk big man with no chance.

It was something the former NBA big has done thousands of times on the court but it underlined what the Sydney Kings had been missing without their marquee man.

The Kings missed him dearly, but assured he was OK after he didn’t take the court in the second half, finishing with six points in 12 minutes.

Justinian Jessup was back to his best after a mini slump. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Golden State Warriors-bound Jessup proved class is permanent, the flamethrower snapping out of a mini funk.

The 22-year-old had just 7, 12, and 5 points in his past three games, but eclipsed those totals by halftime against the Kings (13).

“He’s a massive part of our team and we need him to be going for us to be good, so it’s good to see him get back,” Froling said on the ESPN broadcast.

The Colorado native was the 51st pick in last year’s NBA draft and was stashed in Illawarra as a Next Star. He’s proven to be one of the best shooters in the NBL, shooting a ridiculous 47 per cent from deep.

Originally published as‘Bad beat’: Kings drop stinker in 100th clash with NSW rival

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