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King size comeback

Recovering Sydney centre Julian Khazzouh has buried any lingering doubts after recovering from a season-ending ruptured quadricep and vows to hit the floor running for the Kings 2016/17 opening home clash with the Brisbane Bullets in October. One of just four players returning from last season, Khazzouh has made steady progress after undergoing surgery a little over seven months ago and expects to start training in six weeks. The new look Kings have been ripping into pre-season practice for the past week and Khazzouh has been a keen observer on the sideline. “I’m still rehabbing and going through the process,” Khazzouh said. "Everything has completely healed and now it’s just a process of getting the leg as strong as possible. The quad that I hurt is made up of three muscles and one tendon. Originally they thought it could be all four parts but it was just the tendon I ruptured. “I’ve been working out with our strength coach and really noticing the difference. Hopefully I’m back by the end of August, but certainly by the start of the season there’ll be no doubt whether I’m playing or not.” Khazzouh has put his trust in new Sydney coach Andrew Gaze to lead the Kings back to respectability in the 2016/17 season. Plagued by injury from the get go last season, the Kings weren’t helped by a midseason coaching change and finished at the bottom of the ladder but has since undergone a change of ownership in the offseason and signed Andrew Gaze. The Kings are effectively learning a new offence from scratch, as Gaze has begun to implement the famed motion offence his father Lindsay Gaze and Al Westover used. “The system is nothing any of the guys have ever run before,” Khazzouh said. “It’s just a matter of getting through all the different wrinkles, which are almost endless. I like what I see from the entire NBL. The Kings have recruited very well, but every team has signed good players so the league is really growing.” The Kings are trialing several players for development spots, including Steve Carfino's 19-year-old son Clay. “We usually don’t start pre-season until the last weeks of August, so we made sure we came in early with a bunch of guys to start running the systems and get to know them,” Khazzouh said. “Hopefully when the normal pre-season starts at the end of August, we’ll have everyone in town.” Sydney’s other holdovers from last season are guard Jason Cadee and forwards Tom Garlepp and Jeromie Hill. “The coaches have brought in new stuff and it’s been good,” Cadee said. “Drewy’s brought a bit of what he used to do and what he grew up with, but the game’s changed a lot too, so we’re going to have different elements and a group that can go either way, which is going to be a nice way to play. “Our fans should be excited. It’s a different look in terms of ownership and coaches and things like that. They should all be looking to that first game.” Cadee only turned 25 in April, yet he has played with three clubs and is about to enter his seventh NBL season. The Sydney born guard knows he’s not a kid anymore and is taking it upon himself to keep growing as a team leader. “There’s an element of familiarity with the four of us from last year and I think I can keep building my leadership,” he said. “I did a better job last year with it and I think it’ll be good to be among a more experienced group to keep building that. “Personally, it’s about getting better. I want to put myself in that Australian squad, and being around the group and coaches I’ve got around me, I think I can put myself in a good position at the end of the year hopefully.”
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