THE SYDNEY Kings kept the Schweppes Drury’s Cup after beating the Cairns Taipans on Saturday night to sweep the two-game series between the NBL clubs at Tamworth’s Sports Dome.
After needing extra time to win Friday’s first game 98-93, the Kings were more comfortable on Saturday night when they won 80-60.
They established a 12-point lead at quarter-time and never looked back.
Every quarter saw Sydney edge further in front and, even though Cairns got to within seven mid-way through the third quarter, the Kings were never in any major danger.
It was 48-34 at the half and 68-50 at three-quarter time.
Besides the two wins, Kings coach Shane Heal was also pleased to see his side execute some new plays and work on their combinations.
“It was a good hit-out for us,” Heal said.
“We need games.
“We haven’t been together and Cairns is a good side.
“They had a couple of players out but I thought our guys played with good intensity.
“We were able to try out a lot of different things and we need to do those things because we’ll need them in the season.”
The new American imports in the Sydney side were impressive on Friday night and also played a big part in game two.
Corin Henry may be the shortest player the Kings have ever had but he showed what a big signing he might be with another 16 points on Saturday to go with his 33 from Friday.
Fellow import Darnell Lazare notched 14 of his own after scoring 20 in game one and both players got an early mark for their efforts.
“Corin and Darnell play a good role for us,” Heal said.
“Others that played well, I thought Ian Crosswhite was great, especially in the last quarter tonight.
“He only played limited time but did some good things.
“Ben Madgen, Aaron Bruce – those guys all contributed.”
Tom Garlepp also hit 16 for the Kings while captain Madgen was the next top scorer with 15.
For the Taipans it was another import, Dusty Rychart, who led the scoring with 14 while Shaun Bruce added 12 and Kerry Williams was also among their best.
Cairns missed the presence of Jamar Wilson, who was one of the standouts on Friday night.
The Kings now have a double header against Townsville next weekend in Toowoomba and three games in Melbourne to follow that so Heal will get the game time he wants before the season starts.
The Tamworth trip was the second of three for the Kings after they beat the Gold Coast Blaze on aggregate to win last year’s series.
They now have three games from four in Tamworth and, with about 600 fans inside the dome and the majority cheering for the Sydney side, it’s little wonder the Kings like stopping by for a few days.
“We enjoy coming here,” Heal said.
“We enjoy getting into the community.
“We embrace it and it’s always hospitable.
“Obviously I wasn’t here last year but all the reports were good and this year we’ve been treated well.”
The Kings will be back next year for two more games at the Sports Dome.