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All-star Sydney Kings crowned NBL champs

The Sydney Kings have won their first NBL title in 17 years with a 97-88 home win in game three of the grand-final series, bringing to an end the Tasmania JackJumpers fairytale run in the competition.

Watched by a NBL grand-final record attendance of 16,149 at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday, Sydney trailed after the first three quarters but never by more than eight.

Frontcourt stars Xavier Cooks (23 points and 13 boards) and Jarell Martin (22 and 16) had double doubles for Sydney, while former NBA champion Ian Clark scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.

Captain Cooks won the Larry Sengstock Medal for MVP in the grand-final series, with Sydney taking a fourth title after winning three in a row from 2003-05.

Sydney’s NBL MVP Jaylen Adams missed the second straight game with a hamstring strain.

“So freakin proud of these guys,” Kings first-year coach Chase Buford said.

“The last couple of games down at quarter-time, halftime and three -quarter time, they just kept grinding.

“X (Cooks) was so good, Rell (Martin) so good, Ian down the stretch was incredible.

“Credit to Tassie they were terrific tonight, they gave us everything we could handle, their guys hit shots, they were running on us, I’ve got so much respect for those dudes.”

Feisty to the end, the JackJumpers fought hard after starters Fabijan Krslovic and Jack McVeigh were ruled out because of flu.

Josh Adams enjoyed a game-high 27 points for Scott Roth’s brave men.

“I’m so proud of our group, we had some adversity the last five or six days, fighting this flu that was going through us,” JackJumpers coach Roth said.

“One hell of a fight by us, congratulations to Sydney they are super talented and have some really good players … we’ll be better from this.”

The Kings dominated the boards, winning 49-35, and Tasmania made just three turnovers.

The JackJumpers got off to a fast start to lead 8-2 with Adams hitting two three-pointers and Sydney missing their first three field-goal attempts.

Sydney’s game-two hero Dejan Vasiljevic was well off target early on with a three-point attempt and hit just two from 11 from the field.

However, Cooks and Martin dominated down low and Clark put the game beyond the JackJumpers reach.

The JackJumpers led 25-22 at quarter time despite being out-rebounded 14-4.

Coming off the bench, Kings centre Makur Maker bagged seven points and three boards in under five minutes in the first quarter, but Sydney turned the ball over five times to Tasmania’s none in the opening term.

Sydney edged ahead 34-30 in the second quarter, but the JackJumpers hit four straight three-pointers to open up an eight-point lead.

Two more triples from Jock Perry, who was elevated into the rotation after the late withdrawals, kept the visitors ahead but the dogged Kings closed to within a point at halftime.

Adams had 13 by halftime while Cooks and Martin had the same for Sydney.

Cooks made all five of his first-half shots and Martin missed just one of six from the field.

The lead changed numerous times in the third quarter which ended with Tasmania ahead by three.

But the Kings proved too strong in the fourth quarter, dominating 31-19 to seal the win and title.

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