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R2 Preview: Sydney v Illawarra

The Sydney Kings and the Illawarra Hawks add to their rich history this afternoon at the Qantas Credit Union Arena, for the first NSW derby of the 2015/16 NBL season. The Sydney Kings host after a two-day break, and head coach Damian Cotter will be looking for the energy his team displayed in their first game against the Cairns Taipans, where they handed last year’s Grand Finalists a 24-point serving. This was followed by a disappointing performance against the Townsville on Thursday, where they could not keep up with the up-tempo Crocodiles on their own court. Tonight is set to be a shoot-out against the Illawarra Hawks, with both clubs leading the League in three-point attempts. The real challenge lies with the big men Julian Khazzouh and AJ Ogilvy, with the matchup set to be a battle inside the paint. Both Khazzouh and Ogilvy are in the Top Six of the NBL in scoring and rebounding, and their first head-to-head is one to look forward to. They briefly met at the pre-season Blitz, but foul problems for Ogilvy restricted him to just seven minutes. Illawarra still won the game 78-73. Another consideration for the visitors is the four former Sydney players on the Illawarra roster that will be playing at the Kingdome for the first time in opposition colours. Kevin White (94 games), Cody Ellis (44), AJ Ogilvy (28) and Jarrad Weeks (24) total 190 games of service to the Kings and all will play a big part in this rivalry. One man who is fresh in this rivalry is Hawks gun Kirk Penney. He might be the oldest player in the competition, but he showed his class with a vintage shooting display against his old side New Zealand on Wednesday night with 36 points. He currently leads the League in scoring at 22 per game – a position he is familiar with, as the NBL’s best scorer the last three years he played. For the home side, alongside Khazzouh, Jason Cadee is the only other Sydney player averaging double figures in scoring (15.5points per game) after leading the pre-season Blitz in scoring and a tournament high 30-points in their match against Illawarra. BY THE NUMBERS

Games played: 78 Kings won 48 Hawks won 30

In Sydney: Kings won: 27 Hawks won: 10

In Sydney 2014/15: Round 1) Kings by 3 Round 19) Hawks by 2

FAST FACTS

LOOK BACK - Last season, both Hawks and Kings won at home and away against the other. The Hawks have won 7 of their last 9 games against the Kings.

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