Sydney Kings vs New Zealand Breakers score, results, highlights, audience, record
The Sydney Kings are one win away from back-to-back NBL championships after a comfortable 91-68 win over the New Zealand Breakers in front of the largest crowd in NBL history.
A sell-out crowd of 18,049 packed Qudos to see the Kings outlast the Breakers and take a crucial 2-1 lead in the series.
Defensive beast – and MVP favorite of the series – Justin Simon continued his brilliant form for the Kings.
Simon dominated again, dropping 13 points while adding six assists.
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Kings sniper Dejan Vasiljevic put on his best performance in the grand finals series.
Vasiljevic found his mojo to finish with 15 points.
Sydney big man Tim Soares proved to be an unsung hero for the Kings.
Soares resisted talk of being benched before the game to score 14 points and add six rebounds.
In the end, however, Sydney’s victory was largely down to the shooting duo of Derrick Walton Jr and Xavier Cooks, who overcame injury concerns to become stars.
Walton Jr. was great for the Kings as he filled the stats list with 12 points, six rebounds and a whopping nine assists.
He also drew an important offensive foul towards the end of the third quarter.
Cooks had 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists – fresh from signing a two-year NBA contract with the Washington Wizards this week.
You knew the NBL MVP was set for a decent game when he exploded to the brim with a signature dunk after two minutes.
William McDowell-White was New Zealand’s all-time leading player with 11 points and six rebounds, while Jarrell Brantley and Barry Brown Jr. each had 10 points.
Brantley fouled just minutes into the fourth quarter.
Sydney’s victory is crucial when looking at history.
In the best-of-five series format, the Game 3 winner has won the championship on 11 of the 12 occasions.
The only exception was the first best-of-five series in 2004, when the Kings won games four and five after losing game three to city-wide rivals the Western Sydney Razorbacks.
Sydney has come a long way since 2004, as evidenced by the crowds of over 18,000 at the Qudos Bank Arena.
The biggest NBL audience to date was in 2019, when 17,514 fans also attended Qudos to watch NBA star LaMelo Ball play for the Illawarra Hawks against the Kings.
Friday’s all-time attendance record is also the third-biggest attendance in Australian basketball history – behind only two exhibition games against Team USA at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium in 2019.
Sydney used the energy of record crowds in opening exchanges to force multiple turnovers on the breakers.
Simon continued his series MVP caliber form for the Kings with early points, assists and a dog-like defense.
Blitz in the late game sees Kings down Breakers | 02:08
The Breakers stayed in contention thanks to three-point bombs from Tom Abercrombie and Izayah Le’Afa.
This paved the way for the New Zealanders to take a narrow 24-22 lead at quarter time.
New Zealand’s three-point party continued in the second quarter.
Big man Rob Loe dropped an early dagger out of range.
Loe’s bomb inspired the New Zealanders to a four-point lead in the middle of the quarter.
Sydney refused to surrender but was heartbroken late in the second when Brown Jr. slammed down consecutive threes to give the Breakers a 47-43 halftime advantage.
New Zealand exploded from the blocks in the third quarter to take a 52-43 lead before Sydney responded – again.
Both teams traded shots before the Kings took over to go into the final frame with a comfortable eight-point lead.
https://www.foxsports.com.au/basketball/nbl/nbl-finals-2023-sydney-kings-vs-new-zealand-breakers-score-results-highlights-crowd-record/news-story/f016d65b624ea22f5d77d74e90c34262 Sydney Kings vs New Zealand Breakers score, results, highlights, audience, record