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Illawarra take down Sydney in Blitz NSW derby

The Blitz edition of the New South Wales derby went the way of the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday morning, with at 78-73 win over the Sydney Kings at Townsville RSL Stadium. The Sydney Kings came out firing, with Julian Khazzouh opening up scoring and notched seven points early, proving what the NBL has been missing the past three seasons in his absence. Jason Cadee, Marcus Thornton and Jeremy Hill all put points on the board and led Illawarra 20-14 at the first break. The second term was opened by Cody Ellis, with an easy tip in followed by a jump shot to put up four points against his former team. The Illawarra Hawks put on the pressure and Oscar Forman managed two three’s to get them flying to a massive 28-point run and limiting the Kings to just nine. Illawarra Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge said he was impressed with team, especially with the key contributors Kirk Penney and Kevin Lisch on the sidelines. “We’re going this process, like every team – you’ve got to learn how to win together. A lot of the players were really good last year but they just lost how to win," said Beveridge. “We showed some gutsy wins down the stretch, especially with the majority of players from last year which is terrific for their confidence. They made gutsy plays when it counted.” The Sydney Kings were not deflated by a poor first half and left the change rooms with a new leash of determination, with workhorse Jason Cadee making all the difference. Shooting at 71 per cent from the field, Cadee top-scored with 30 points to go with five rebounds and helped the Kings to a 21-point third period. “He played very well today, he did a good job for us,” said Sydney Kings head coach Damian Cotter. “For him its time to step up and take some responsibility. He made some good plays for us down the stretch and offensively we’re a bit more settled with him running the one. “He’s trying to address the defensive angle of things, but I hope he has a break out year this season.” Khazzouh was all over the glass and also made the most of his minutes, with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds and coach Cotter said the hit out provided crucial learnings. “We always want to win. But the best thing about these two games is that both Adelaide and now Illawarra have exposed areas we need to address. We showed a bit of poor behaviour – credit to Illawarra – but we did a good job of getting back in the game,” said Cotter. Despite the Kings run, the Illawarra Hawks held on and captain Oscar Forman registered 23 points shooting at 50 per cent from the field, while Tim Coenraad had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Coach Beveridge said he was happy with his Hawks vets but indicated he will expecting even more from them in the upcoming 2015/16 season as they look to become the Warriors of the NBL. “I get cranky with them when they tighten up. Players like Forman, Coenraad, and all those guys shoot the ball so well that I’ll pull them out if they don’t take an open shot. We definitely want to play that Golden State thing,” said Beveridge. “If we’re half open I want our shooters to play with confidence and not fear taking that shot. Will we take bad shots? Absolutely. But I’d prefer them to take more than less – we took 73 shots today but I want them to make 80 a game.” The Illawarra Hawks take their Blitz tally up to 7.5 with the victory, while the Sydney Kings sit on 3.5. Both teams play again tomorrow. ILLAWARRA HAWKS 78 (Forman 23, Coenraad 13, Martin 10) SYDNEY KINGS 75 ( Cadee 30, Khazzouh 18, Thornton 8) BOX SCORE  
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