The Breakers led 92-83 in the final two minutes and all looked lost for the home team, until they brought the desperation and fight they so badly needed to almost steal the game.
A jumper from Jeremy Tyler (23 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots) followed by a massive triple from Brad Newley (15 points, six rebounds, six assists) reduced the margin to just two and had the Qudos Bank Arena crowd roaring.
Edgar Sosa answered with a clutch jumper before Jerome Randle (20 points, three assists) responded with a layup, but when Sydney’s floor general fouled Shae Ili on a shot attempt, Jerome picked up his fifth and final foul and had to watch the remaining drama from the bench.
Ili made one of two from the free throw line to extend the margin to four, and after a miss by Tyler and a free throw from Loe, Todd Blanchfield buried a triple with eight seconds left.
Sydney fouled quickly, and Sosa nailed two free throws before Ili came up big once again with a steal from Blanchfield to preserve New Zealand’s victory.
A major talking point after the game was a contentious flop warning called on Newley in the third quarter which stalled Sydney’s momentum, but while he admitted that he felt the officials got the call wrong, Head Coach Andrew Gaze refused to use it as an excuse for the loss.
“I think they made an unfortunate mistake with that call,” he said.
“I concede that it’s tough sometimes and it’s hard sometimes to know what is and isn’t a flop.”
“To me it was absolutely perfect defence and he should have got the reward.”
“But New Zealand earned that win. They shot the ball incredibly well, and I keep telling the fellas that if we’ve got to score 100 we’re going to lose most games.”
In contrast to last Sunday’s game, the Kings came out of the blocks exceptionally well, with Randle and Tyler keying a 14-6 lead for the home team in the opening four minutes.
But in what became a recurring theme throughout the game, defensive breakdowns and poor decisions began to hurt, with the Breakers storming back to trail by just one, 25-24, after one period.
Tyler was in an aggressive mood in the second quarter, hitting several jumpers and throwing down a thunderous jam to give the Kings an 11 point lead midway through the quarter.
Sydney had all the momentum and the opportunity to put their boot on New Zealand’s throat. However, Rob Loe (24 points) hit a big triple to give the Breakers life, and while Sydney were the better team, they led by just five at the half in a worrying sign.
Again the Kings pushed out the lead to 10 on the back of a Perry Ellis dunk with two minutes gone in the third period. And again, the visitors were able to reel them in, with Edgar Sosa hitting five quick points to keep the Breakers close and ultimately push them to a 71-69 lead as the teams turned for home.
Ultimately, the game was decided during a two minute stretch of the fourth when the Breakers made three straight layups followed by an Ili jumper to push the margin out to nine. Try as they might, Sydney could never get past New Zealand after that 8-0 run.
The Kings now face a difficult test this Saturday night as they take on the resurgent Brisbane Bullets at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 99 (Loe 24, Sosa 21, Penney 13) def. SYDNEY KINGS 95 (Tyler 23, Randle 20, Newley 15) at Qudos Bank Arena.
Source: Matt McQuade (SydneyKings.com.au)