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GAME REPORT

Phoenix Soar Over Kings on Opening Blitz Night

The South East Melbourne Phoenix took advantage of a flying start to beat the Sydney Kings 81-75 on the opening night of the NBL Blitz on Saturday.

The Phoenix flew out of the blocks at Melbourne Sport and Aquatic Centre in the second game on the opening night of the NBL Blitz leading into the 2021/22 season.

Both teams were minus some big name stars with the Kings without import pair RJ Hunter and Jaylen Adams along with Next Star Makur Maker while the Phoenix didn’t have Cam Gliddon or Dane Pineau hit the floor and Mitch Creek didn’t play the second half.

It was the Phoenix in control from the outset, though, leading 9-2 early on and going on to lead by as much as 19 points before ending up winning by six. 

To the Kings' credit, especially with the players they were missing, they fought hard and offered plenty for new coach Chase Buford to be encouraged by.

The Phoenix showed plenty to suggest they are going to be in the hunt to back up last year's semi-final appearance and they looked especially strong with Mitch Creek on the floor, who put up 17 points in the first half including knocking down three three-pointers.

Chinese superstar Zhou Qi got the start in the centre spot and the signs for the Phoenix with him were exciting too as the former Houston Rocket produced 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 14 minutes of court time before fouling out.

The impressive signs continued for the Phoenix with Ryan Broekhoff looking hungry and healthy, and finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while getting through almost 32 minutes of game time.

Kyle Adnam was hot property in the off-season but elected to stay with the Phoenix and started his pre-season well with 16 points with Xavier Munford adding 10 points and four rebounds despite shooting just 3/14 from the field.

Jarell Martin was a huge signing for the Kings in the off-season to secure his return after a standout first NBL season and he looks ready for a big impact again. He delivered 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists in 25 minutes.

Tom Vodanovich gave a typically hard-working performance for 12 points and nine rebounds with Xavier Cooks looking good for 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Getting the start at guard was Angus Glover on return from a knee reconstruction and he had eight points and seven rebounds for Sydney with DJ Vasiljevic's injury replacement Wani Swaka Lo Buluk providing eight points.

Shaun Bruce also had seven points and five rebounds, Jaylin Galloway six points including a spectacular throwndown and Biwali Bayles six points which included a mouth-watering spin move for a layup.

Both teams are next in action as part of the NBL Blitz on Monday with the Phoenix taking on the Illawarra Hawks from 5.30pm AEDT and then the Kings play Melbourne United from 7.30pm.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL BLITZ

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 81 (Creek 17, Adnam 16, Broekhoff 12)

SYDNEY KINGS 75 (Martin 15, Vodanovich 12, Cooks 10) 

BOX SCORE 

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