Bogut stars in Kings win on eve of MVP announcement

Bogut stars in Kings win on eve of MVP announcement

February 16, 2019

The National Basketball League will name its most valuable player on Sunday.

On the eve of the announcement, Andrew Bogut restated his case.

Centre of attention: Star Kings recruit Andrew Bogut was impressive as ever against Cairns on Saturday.Credit:Chris Lane

Bogut’s contribution against Cairns – 12 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five blocks – wouldn’t be taken into consideration given the last of the votes for the game’s most valuable player were cast two weeks ago. Go figure. However, no individual has been more instrumental in the turnaround of the Kings. Perth’s Bryce Cotton and Melbourne’s Casper Ware have claims, but there is a reason why Sydney’s home crowds have risen to an average of about 8500.

They have a winning team. For the first time in six years, a playoff team. One that can reasonably expected to challenge for the title. And Bogut has been chiefly responsible. His contribution is less about the numbers he posts, as impressive as they are, and more about what he extracts from teammates. This was again evidenced in the 89-84 win.

Midway through the first quarter, Bogut slammed down an alley-oop from Kevin Lisch. The hometown crowd began a chant of ‘MVP! MVP!’ It broke out again in the second when the Kings centre pulled off a huge block on Nathan Jawai. Theirs was another cracking battle, two of the league’s biggest bodies colliding in the paint. But there was only going to be one winner.

Of course this is not a one-man team. Brian Bowen will soon go into the NBA draft, perhaps as a late first-round pick. Lisch, Brad Newley and Daniel Kickert have represented the Boomers. This is a team coach Andrew Gaze described as potentially one of the best assembled in the NBL. It may yet prove so. All were needed finish off a plucky opponent.

Brad Newley looks for a pass.Credit:AAP

The Kings came into this one knowing that, regardless of the result, Melbourne would be their playoff opponent. However, there were permutations still to be played out. The win against the Taipans kept alive the prospect of a second-placed finish. For that to happen, Perth must beat Melbourne in the final regular game of the season on Sunday afternoon. That it has all come down this shows the closeness of the competition.

It appeared the Kings had more to play for. Cairns were consigned to the wooden spoon regardless of the result after winning just six matches. However, the visitors had their own motivation. It was the last game for the retiring Alex Loughton and this was a chance to continue their surprising late-season spurt. This was a team that defeated the defending premiers earlier in the week. However, they just didn’t have the class.

On Friday night Preston Campbell was in Melbourne to watch the rugby league fixture he inspired, the All Stars clash. ‘Presto’ was also a guest of honour at Qudos Bank Arena as part of the NBL’s Indigenous round celebrations. Other proud Indigenous leaguies in attendance included Jamie Soward and Anthony Mundine, while Jessica Mauboy was also courtside. They were joined on the sidelines by Sydney Kings superstar Jerome Randle, watching on hopelessly due to a quad strain. Thankfully, the playoffs don’t begin until March, giving him the time required to regain full fitness.

The Kings missed him. They appeared in full control after going on a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter and led until the finish. However, they found themselves only one point in front at three-quarter time, making the finish tighter than it had to be.

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