Sydney big man Jarell Martin has responded to his coach’s exhortation to be more aggressive, as the Kings stormed over the top of Tasmania and denied the new franchise their first NBL away win.
The JackJumpers led 58-45 in the third quarter at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday, but were outscored 29-8 in the final term and managed just 23 points after halftime, with Sydney winning 83-71.
After nailing eight of 15 three-pointers in the first half, Tasmania went ice cold from long range missing all 15 of their second half tries, including nine in the last quarter.
They missed their last six field goal attempts and managed just two free throws in the final three-and-a-half minutes, shooting just 52 per cent for the game from the charity stripe.
“We didn’t make any shots,” JackJumpers’ coach Scott Roth said.
With guards and fellow imports Jaylen Adams and RJ Hunter still injured and Jordan Hunter out for the remainder of the season, Sydney lacked significant firepower.
But Martin stepped up big time with 24 points and 11 rebounds making a couple of three-pointers and some big dunks.
“Jarell was terrific,” Kings’ coach Chase Buford said.
“I told Jarell earlier today,’ we need you to be aggressive, to make things happen.'”
Buford acknowledged Sydney also had problems in attack.
“I told the coaches I don’t know how the heck we got to 83 points at the end of the day,” Buford said.
“But we found a way down the stretch, got some big buckets.
“I’m just proud of the fightback, the guts from our team to stay together when it wasn’t going our way for the full four quarters.”
Bench guard Biwali Bayles sparked the Kings and kept them in touch in the third quarter, scoring seven of his 12 points in that term
After a quiet first three quarters offensively, Kings’ captain Xavier Cooks lifted in the final period, notching eight of his 12 points and starring at the defensive end with two of his three blocks coming inside the last two minutes.
Tasmania scored ten straight second quarter points to lead by 11 and a three-pointer on the buzzer gave them a 48-39 half time advantage.
They had their highest-scoring quarter ever of 28 in the second and their halftime score of 49 was the most they had totalled in a full half.
Captain Clint Steindl was their only consistently reliable offensive option, scoring 15 off the bench at 54 per cent from the field.
While Tasmania committed only seven turnovers, import guards Josh Adams and Josh Magette shot a combined nine for 29 from the field.
“Its obviously frustrating, I thought we played very well for three quarters, kind of what I envisioned us to be,” Roth said.
“Very scrappy and aggressive defensively and the ball finally started moving a little bit which we’ve been working on the last seven to eight days.
“It got away from us in the fourth and that’s a lesson learnt unfortunately, but there’s some positives out there and we’ll build on those.”