Hungry Jack's NBL
Can't keep a big man down
By his own admission, Brad Newley wasn’t the easiest person to live with in the weeks after being cut from the Australian team. Newley had lined up with the Boomers at the previous two Olympics and his heart was set on representing his country in Rio. But when Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis settled on his final team team in July, the Sydney Kings’ prize off-season recruit was the most notable omission. Newley took the news hard and decided the best way to move on was to throw himself boots and all into preseason training with the Kings. “It was really tough at first,” Newley said. “It was a bit of a shock because everyone always just kind of told me ‘oh don’t worry you’ll be in’, and all of a sudden it doesn’t happen and it’s definitely a shock to the system. “Ask my family. They probably rode it pretty hard for about a month or so, but you get on from that and the best thing I could do was get over to Sydney and get my life settled over here. “Now that’s proving to be good and things are rolling along nicely.” Nicely indeed. The Kings are on top of the NBL ladder with a 5-1 record and Newley - back in the league after almost 10 years in Europe - has been a key factor in the team’s early success. He knifes his way to the basket as good as anybody in the league and defenders have to respect his streaky perimeter shooting. Newley has also provided a spark at the defensive end and under the boards. “It’s been a good start and it’s hard not to get excited with where we’re at,” he said. “We’ve kind of proven we can handle tough situations. Even in our wins, they’ve all been hard wins, so you can’t say we’re killing it. We’re getting our wins through hard work. “As long as we keep doing the day to day things and not get ahead of ourselves, we should be alright to give it a good challenge.” Newley is quick to point out that his ambition to represent Australia hasn’t waned and he hopes to reclaim a spot in the team. But he is just as quick to reject the notion he is out to prove a point to Lemanis. “I definitely haven’t retired from that at all and I’m definitely available,” the 31-year-old South Australian said. “I would love to play for Australia for as long as I can, and if that call comes again I’ll put my hand up straight away. “There’s no hard feelings about that. I’ll always want to play for my country. If I can do that by proving myself in the NBL then that’s how it has to be. “I feel you’ve got a point to prove in every game. If you just pick and choose which games you want to prove a point, then you’re going to be inconsistent. Every game there’s something to prove.” Newley buried any doubts about his leadership and ability to dominate a game, stepping up in the absence of captain Kevin Lisch to rack up 29 points and eight rebounds in last week’s 87-78 home win over Brisbane. He connected on 10/16 shots, including 3/7 from three-point range. Newley deflected praise for his own performance and said the Kings were growing as a team every week. “We’ve proven when one of our men goes down, someone else is going to come through,” he said. “We’ve got depth now with Josh [Powell] and Steve [Blake] there. Steve was fantastic coming in and playing 36 minutes in his first game. That’s not easy to do. But you throw him in at the deep end and test him and see what he can do, and he’s proven he can get the job done. “We get Kev back now and things are humming along nicely.” The Kings have shown they can run ‘n’ gun with anyone, but also get down and dirty in the trenches when the going gets tough. “You need to be well balanced,” Newley said. “If you play all one way you’re kind of leaving yourselves exposed. If you can cover all facets of the game you should be okay. “If you rebound well and defend well, that’ll lead to easy baskets, and that’s what we’re getting a lot of stuff from. We’ve got a lot of guys out there defending and getting steals and that can take us a long way. “Our practices are just as good as the games. There’s some good talent out here and that’s how guys are getting better and improving. Guys are getting a better understanding of where to get shots in the offence.” The Kings face rare back to back duels with the Cairns Taipans in round five, with an away game on Saturday night followed by Monday night’s battle in Sydney. Cairns (2-3) kickstarted their season with last week’s wins over Melbourne United and Illawarra. “They’re a team that will make you defend for 24 seconds and they don’t really go out of their offence because they do such a good job of executing,” Newley said. “It’s up to us to get in there and disrupt that a little bit, and then run it back down their throat at the other end. “They’ve got some experienced players like [Mark] Worthington. Cam Gliddon has had experience with the Boomers, and their Americans are playing very well too. From top to bottom they’ve very tough and going up there to play will be a challenge.” Lisch confirmed on Thursday he had overcome a calf injury and would definitely play both games against Cairns.