Round 9 and 10 of the NBL have been nothing short of fascinating. NBL tippers have started to throw their cards out of the window because this season it appears the rule book means nothing.
Round 9 saw the Cairns Taipans end the winning streak of the Gold Coast Blaze; New Zealand Breakers continued to dominate by taking out the Melbourne Tigers; there was more pain for the Wollongong Hawks who went down to the Townsville Crocodiles; and then, of course, there was the upset of the Perth Wildcats being beaten at Challenge Stadium once again by the Adelaide 36ers.
The final game of round 9 was at The Kingdome in Sydney. The Kings were chasing one of those elusive home wins. At the sound of that final buzzer I was one of many cheering as our home team edged out a memorable victory. Not only did I see my team win, I also got to hug one of the Pussy Cat Dolls. Our captain and man of the hour, Julian Khazzouh, led the way with 18 points and six rebounds as he led his troops to the finish line. He was ably assisted, as always, by Jerai Grant, Ben Madgen, Aaron “The Beast” Bruce and Luke Martin. Other highlights were an epic ‘trey’ by Kevin “The Hustle” Ratzsch and a massive ‘two-hand jam’ that has become the calling card of Grant.
Round 10 would see simular drama and action. The Breakers once again showed their power with a complete demolition of the Blaze and the 36ers to take maximum points from their double round; the Taipans edged out the struggling Tigers; the Hawks took another beating at the hands of the Wildcats; and the Kings couldn’t quite get the job done at “The Swamp” in Townsville.
My personal favourite game was on December 8 when I arrived at the Kingdrome to catch the Kings vs. 36ers game. Little did I know the game would have me on the edge of my seat to the final buzzer.
The Kings trailed the 36ers at every interval. The lead changed hands 20 times in a single match and neither team could get the edge they needed. To make matters worse for the Kings, Khazzouh, was kept scoreless for the first half of the game. Eventually though, the game would finish like a Hollywood movie. The Kings were down by two points with less than one second on the clock. Khazzouh was at the free throw line on the edge of scoring those last two points. The rest of the fans and I could barely look as he sunk both baskets to send the game into overtime. The Sydney crowd erupted. The struggle then continued through the overtime, but it was the Kings who held their nerve and took the win 107-103.
On the court after the game the players laughed and joked with fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. I could feel the sense of relief in the stadium as I caught up with the big man (Khazzouh) to congratulate him. I soon learnt the big news that Khazzouh had been invited to try out for NBA team Golden State Warriors. If he does well he’ll begin training in the US by the end of December, so this may well have been the last time I would see our captain in a Kings jersey.
It was the game of the season and massive credit goes to the Adelaide team who supplied half the entertainment. My best wishes go to Khazzouh for chasing his NBA dream and being recognised for the class player he is. We’ve still got a long way to go until the finals though, so keep an eye out on the iiNet Blog for more on the NBL.
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