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Calling Australia Home

Forget about all the bureaucratic hoops Kevin Lisch had to jump through to gain Australian citizenship. The 2012 and 2016 NBL MVP reckons he qualified as a ‘true blue’ Aussie after belting out an impromptu solo rendition of the national anthem as requested by his Boomers teammates on the eve of the Rio Olympics. “I already knew all the words because I picked it up just from singing it at games, and then the guys tested me,” Lisch said. “Patty (Mills) and Boges (Andrew Bogut) came into my room one day and made me sing it in front of them while they filmed me. I panicked a little bit but I think I did pretty well.” Being asked to sing publicly might give him a few heart palpitations, but ‘panic’ is not a word usually associated with Lisch, certainly not on the basketball court. The Sydney Kings knew they needed a tough and talented leader to build their new-look team aroundand that’s exactly why they courted the former Perth and Illawarra import so strongly in the early stages of the off-season. Lisch, who signed a three-year deal with the Kings, has no regrets about leaving the Hawks and is excited about his new club’s prospects in the 2016-17 season. “Once I did my due diligence, as did the team, there was absolutely zero hesitations,” the 30-year-old guard said. “This was definitely the best decision and I’m just having so much fun with this organisation. Last year I had a ton of fun with the Hawks but I’m just so excited about being with the Kings this year.” Sydney retained key players Tom Garlepp, Jason Cadee and Julian Khazzouh, and recruited big-name Australians Brad Newley and Aleks Maric. In addition to pouncing on Lisch, the club also has two brand new imports with Greg Whittington and Michael Bryson, plus new coach Andrew Gaze. “It’s been real good,” Lisch said. “We’ve got a great coaching staff and a great group of guys, and it’s just a process to turn things around here. Hopefully little by little we’re working towards that end and we’ve got a long ways to go, but at the end of the day that’s why we came here and we’re having a lot of fun.” Lisch insists he feels no extra pressure to lift the Kings from the bottom of the ladder last season into the playoffs. “Obviously our whole team is on a mission to change things around and you create that from within your group,” he said. “At the end of the day, if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and be happy with what you’ve done, then you’ve got a problem, and that’s really ultimately what matters and that’s where any pressure would come from. “You practise to be the very best you can and you really don’t let those pressures affect you because you’ve done everything you can.” After splitting two recent trials with Illawarra, the Kings aim to intensify their buildup to the regular season at this weekend’s Australian Basketball Challenge in Brisbane. Sydney have a tough schedule against New Zealand, Brisbane and reigning NBL champions Perth. “We have a extremely difficult start to the regular season and the ABC will be a great test for us,” Lisch said. “We’ve had a couple matches against Illawarra but we play three really good teams in Brisbane, so we’re looking forward to that.” Married to Sydney girl Rachel, a former Sydney Flames player, the couple has two children - Benji (turning three in December) and 16-month-old Sofia. The family is about to move into a new home almost a stone’s throw from the Kings’ new playing venue in western Sydney. “Life’s good”, he said. For a bloke born in Illinois, Lisch was grateful for the opportunity to wear Australian green and gold at an Olympics. The Boomers missed a perfect chance to claim their first Olympic medal but Lisch savoured every moment. “We put ourselves in a position to medal and we played some great basketball along the way, but looking back, all in all it was an unbelieveable experience on and off the court and I was blessed to have been a part of that,” he said. “There was definitely disappointment because we set our goals pretty high. At the end of the day we gave it our best shot and we played some really good basketball, so we have a lot to be proud of and there’s a lot to build on going forward. “I’ve played some international ball before, but to play it on that scale with so many great players around you was a lot of fun. “It’s great being back home and back into a routine. I’m all refreshed and ready to go.” The Kings open their 2016-17 regular season campaign with an October 8 home game against NBL returnees Brisbane.    
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