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Mr Dependable

It’s a good thing Sydney stalwart Tom Garlepp has plenty of experience in piecing together jigsaw puzzles. The Kings are well stocked at every position and growing in confidence after impressive round two wins over Illawarra and Cairns. But they are a work in progress and Garlepp, who relaxes by working on jigsaw puzzles in his spare time, is one of several Sydney players worthy of substantial court time. Last week the Kings signed former NBA player Josh Powell as the club’s third import, while centre Julian Khazzouh is close to returning after a 10-month injury layoff. Garlepp has become Sydney’s Mr Dependable over the past few years - he captured team MVP honours last season - and is the club’s longest-serving active player. But with the Kings making so many key off-season changes after finishing last in 2015-16, Garlepp has had to adjust to coming off the bench under Gaze. It’s a role he has played in previous stints with Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth, and the 30-year-old forward understands it will take Gaze time to solve the jigsaw puzzle that is Sydney’s deep and talented roster. “Putting together jigsaws does teach you patience, but it teaches you teamwork too, because [wife] Renee and I used to like doing jigsaw puzzles together before we had [11-month-old son] Hunter,” Garlepp said. “You get your colour, you get your corners, you get your sides and you’re following a process. That’s how we used to go about completing them. “If you use that in basketball terms, you get your bigs sorted out, you get your guards and other pieces all sorted out, you put it all together with the offence and connect it all. That’s a process we’re still going through, but we’re still in a pretty advantageous position.” Fatherhood doesn’t leave much time for Garlepp to indulge in hobbies these days. “If you’ve got a toddler jigsaw puzzles become obsolete,” he said. “It’s all about changing diapers now. Jigsaws are a thing of the past.” Born in Canada and raised in Perth, Garlepp has worked hard to get the most out of his ability and build a solid NBL 10-year career. He has improved with age - last season he averaged 14 points and his 53.7 field goal percentage ranked sixth in the league - and hopes to eventually retire as a King. “I’ve been proud of the work I’ve put together for this club, being a starter the last three years and captain the last two years,” Garlepp said. “I’m a big fan of this club and I’m almost part of the furniture, so I really want to see a winning scenario. “This season for me is completely different, but I suppose I knew coming in that I’d be coming off the bench and playing more of a role rather than starting. “It’s just a situation where you have to play your way into the game and it’ll just take time. I started to feel a bit better on Saturday. Defensive stuff has been good but just being comfortable coming off the bench and being that spark is just taking time. “It’s a big change and there’s certainly an adjustment coming off the bench, but I’ve embraced it and I’m enjoying my basketball, and I’m just really keen to be on a winning side.” After a narrow home loss to Brisbane in round one, the Kings enjoyed a successful round two. Sydney play the Breakers in Auckland on Thursday and host Illawarra on Monday. “The one goal is to be part of a winning culture and I’m excited about the potential of us realising that,” Garlepp said. “We had so much learning to do this season. It was a lot of blokes thrown together and it’s essentially a new club and completely new systems. We’re learning stuff that really hasn’t been around the NBL in a while with the shuffle [offence]. “We haven’t played our best and we know we’ve got a long way to go, so it’s pretty exciting in that regard.” Last Saturday’s 92-78 home win over Cairns was exactly what Sydney needed to prove to themselves they can play well in the face of adversity. After losing guard Kevin Lisch to a head injury in the third quarter, the Kings looked lost for a minute or two before Lisch’s backcourt brother Jason Cadee went off, hitting a three on the buzzer to end the period and exploding for 17 points in the final quarter. After stints with Gold Coast and Adelaide, Cadee believes he is finally coming into his own. “I had a good off-season, and it was good to just hang around Sydney and be around my family and friends and just do my own thing for once,” he said. “I felt good coming into the season. I’m a year older and feel like I’ve matured a bit and the last two years I’ve learned a lot. “Being back in Sydney was a different world and we had some tough years, but with the changes that have come in and the new coaching staff, I’ve really found a good little spot in the team and I’m hoping to build.” Gaze is hoping Sydneysiders jump on board the Kings. “[The win over Cairns] was more relief for the fans because they’ve had a tough couple of years and a lot of them have stuck by the Kings for a long time,” he said. “To be involved with the contest and show that passion, that home support down the stretch genuinely has an impact on the game. It helps the momentum and helps the fellas’ confidence. “With the competition so evenly balanced the home court support is very important. We want to make sure we defend our court and the fans are very much a part of that.”    
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