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Bogut Powers Kings to Win over Breakers

An old bull stepped up when needed to keep the Sydney Kings unbeaten this season with a 96-91 win over the New Zealand Breakers at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday night.


Pre-game it was all about the young guns but veteran Kings centre Andrew Bogut upstaged the NBL debuts of Next Stars Didi Louzada and RJ Hampton as Sydney won a hard-fought clash over the Breakers by five.


Bogut, reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, produced a double-double despite pre-game concerns about a lower back injury.


The 34-year-old scored 11 points and grabbed 15 boards – and threw in five assists and five blocked shots to boot. His presence under the basket and silky passing skills were there for all to see.


Casper Ware led the Kings’ scorers with 27 points and Brad Newley continued his productive start to the season with 17.


Scott Hopson led the Breakers with 27 points, while Corey Webster, playing his 200th game for the club, added 21.


Both Louzada, 20, and Hampton, 18, showed flashes of brilliance in their first hit-outs and will only improve as they get to know their teammates. 


Louzada made an instant impression by going coast-to-coast with his first touch of the ball after just 20 seconds but struggled with his shot for most of the night. He finished with seven points from two of 12 shooting. 


Hampton looked composed running the Breakers’ offence and added seven points.


Kings coach Will Weaver pointed to the stats sheet to illustrate Bogut’s performance while rapt with Louzada's debut.


"He (Bogut) blocked a hell of a lot of shots and affected a lot more. They didn’t get a ton of rim attempts … I think we had 53 to their 36, so that’s almost 20 more rim attempts that we got than them, and obviously they shot nine more threes than we did," Weaver said.


"It was nice to have him (Louzada) back. I thought he moved great and tried really hard.


"Everybody’s excited about his potential because he puts it in the book on the defensive end, he shares the basketball, he plays the right way, he makes a mistake once and corrects it and then fixes it the next thing, it’s so impressive."


On the 28-7 free-throw discrepancy in the Kings’ favour, Breakers coach Dan Shamir was reluctant to comment. 


"I don’t make comment, it’s not my job. Some of it is the style of both teams, and our job is to keep the Kings off the free-throw line," Shamir said.


"The style of the game in today’s basketball, when you score just four points off the free-throw line then we need to defend better and we need to play a bit more aggressively defensively as well."


There was little in the game, with the Kings leading by a point at both quarter-time (28-27) and half-time (48-47) and by five (72-67) heading into the final term.


It’s only the seventh time in the Kings’ history the club has started the season 3-0.


Sydney went into the game without captain Kevin Lisch (ankle), who is not expected to suit up for the return clash against the Breakers in New Zealand on Sunday, nor at home against the Brisbane Bullets next Saturday.


The game was the first of four in eight days for the Breakers who were making their first appearance of the NBL season following their trip to the United States for NBLxNBA games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder. 


After the rematch with Sydney, New Zealand hosts the Illawarra Hawks on Thursday before travelling to Melbourne to face United on Saturday. 


NBL ROUND 3


SYDNEY KINGS 96 (Ware 27, Newley 17, Tate 14)


NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 91 (Hopson 27, Webster 21, Henry 12, Loe 12) 


BOX SCORE

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