Kings Win First Championship in 17 Years with Record Crowd

The Sydney Kings are champions of the NBL for the fourth time and first in 17 years after their firepower just proved too much for a valiant Tasmania JackJumpers with a 97-88 Game 3 victory in front of a record crowd at Qudos Bank Arena.

The biggest ever Grand Final crowd in NBL history of 16,149 turned out on Wednesday night in Sydney. The majority of them left in party mode when the Kings went on a three-minute period of dominance in the fourth quarter with 18 of 25 points to secure the title.

The Kings had won the first two games of the series against the JackJumpers to give them a chance to close it out on their home floor on Wednesday night, but they were dealt a blow with MVP Jaylen Adams again ruled out with his hamstring strain.

However, the JackJumpers lost two members of their starting five, Jack McVeigh and Fabijan Krslovic, through illness and that proved to be pivotal.

While the JackJumpers had been without Will Magnay for much of their run, McVeigh and Krslovic were key to holding down the front court against bigger opponents, but that proved a significant factor in Game 3.

Xavier Cooks (23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks) and Jarell Martin (22 points, 16 rebounds) were dominant forces while the Kings scored 40 points in the paint to 16, 30 second chance points to 14 and pulled down 49 rebounds to 33 for the game.

Cooks was named Grand Final MVP for his work throughout the series and another standout Game 3 performance, but he was far from the only Sydney star.

NBA championship winner Ian Clark had all of his 22 points in the last 21 minutes of the game while Makur Maker added 10 points and four rebounds, DJ Vasiljevic eight points, Tom Vodanovich five points and three boards, and Shaun Bruce three points and eight assists.

It was a valiant performance from Tasmania again on the back of their remarkable feat to even reach the Grand Final in their inaugural NBL season.

Josh Adams was huge again in Game 3 with another 27 points while MiKyle McIntosh added 14 points and eight rebounds, Josh Magette 12 points, 10 boards, seven assists and five steals, Jarrad Weeks 11 points, and Sam McDaniel eight points, three rebounds and two assists.

More than a minute went by before either team scored and it was the JackJumpers with the first five points through Josh Magette and Josh Adams. The latter then hit another three to make it an 8-2 start for the visitors.

However, three balls from Jarell Martin and the Game 2 hero DJ Vasiljevic, and an immediate impact from Makur Maker soon had the Kings assume the lead.

Tasmania responded, though, despite being destroyed on the boards and triples from Jarrad Weeks and Clint Steindl, and an and-one from MiKyle McIntosh helped the JackJumpers lead 25-22 by quarter-time.

That was despite giving up 13 rebounds to four but they did force the Kings into five turnovers to help make up for it.

It was the Kings turn to build some momentum to start the second period and they went on a 12-5 run with Tom Vodanovich and Martin both connecting from deep to put them on top by four.

The onus was back on the JackJumpers to respond and they did with four consecutive three-point makes to make up a stunning 12-0 run. It was the move of the game so far with Adams, McIntosh (twice) and Steindl all knocking down the long balls.

It was Sydney's turn to answer and they did close out the half with a 13-6 run including Ian Clark's three on the buzzer to break his duck for the game, but the JackJumpers still led 48-47 at the break courtesy of Jock Perry's pair of makes from three-point land.

Tasmania went 10/22 from downtown for the half to make up for being outrebounded by 10 and giving up 15 second chance points.

But again they had just the one turnover to the half to help them lead despite the 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Cooks for Sydney, and 13 points and nine boards from Martin.

Clark then opened the second half how he finished the first with a three ball for the Kings but Tasmania again responded with the next six points.

A pair of three-pointers to close out the third quarter from Magette helped Tasmania still cling to a 69-66 advantage by three quarter-time.

Tasmania's lead was out to five to start the fourth with a couple of free-throws to McIntosh, but that would be as good as it got as the Kings gradually took over the rest of the way.

Clark might have been scoreless up until there were seconds left in the first half, but he then turned the game with three triples in the space of three minutes during the fourth quarter to help Sydney go on a title-winning 18-7 run.

A massive two-handed Cooks dunk on yet another offensive rebound, a finish in transition from Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and suddenly Qudos Bank Arena was in party mode and the Kings were champions of the NBL for the first time since 2005.


SYDNEY KINGS 97 (Cooks 23, Martin 22, Clark 22)

TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 88 (Adams 27, McIntosh 14, Magette 12) 

Sydney wins best-of-five series 3-0
Grand Final MVP – Xavier Cooks



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