The Sydney Kings are once again NBL Champions, claiming the 2022-2023 championship in front of yet another massive home crowd at Qudos Bank Arena.
After a long season full of twists and turns, it all came down to game 5 of the championship series between reigning champions Sydney Kings and the Cinderella story of the 2022/2023 season, the New Zealand Breakers.
With plenty of talk between both coaches and owners throughout the series, tensions were ready to boil over. With controversy seemingly after every game played so far in the series, game 5 was always going to be a physical affair between the top two sides of the season.
The game got off to a quick start early with, Derrick Walton Jr kicking things off for the Kings with a corner 3, only for Will McDowell-White to reply instantly with a triple at the other end.
The Kings were once again in foul trouble early, receiving 6 fouls during the first 6 minutes of play as the Breakers took an 11-point lead into quarter time with their physical on-ball defence troubling the Kings side early.
The second quarter was all Sydney Kings however, as their stars started to find their mark, with League MVP and new Washing Wizard Xavier Cooks and Walton Jr leading the way for the home side. Closing the margin to just one point as the halftime buzzer went off.
As the third quarter began the game started to get even more physical with neither team able to get the upper hand. Barry Brown Jr once again started to dominate the scoring for the Breakers as the scores ended up at 56 apiece at the end of the 3rd.
The final quarter started like the first as Will McDowell-White draining a 3 early to give the Breakers the early momentum. Angus Glover was nothing short of courageous early in the last quarter for the Kings. Glover constantly threw his body at everything and was clearly suffering from an injury; his performance was highlighted by an offensive rebound into a dunk to give momentum back to the King’s and get the crowd on their feet.
Walton hit a clutch shot, followed by 2 free throws to put the Kings up by 8 with less than a minute remaining to seal back-to-back championships for the Kings.
For his superb second-half Derrick Walton (21pts, 3 rebounds, 6 assists) was chosen as the player of the game. Walton also won the Larry Sengstock Finals MVP Medal, for his excellent performance over the championship series.
In what was set to be his last NBL game before joining the Washington Wizards, Xavier Cooks (19pts, 11 rebounds, 2 assists) was back to his League MVP best, dominating both offensively and defensively.
The Breakers were once again led on the scoring front by Barry Brown Jr (22pts, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) whilst Jarrell Brantley (16pts, 4 rebounds, 1 assist) had an excellent battle with Xavier Cooks.
The crowd was outstanding over the whole championship series with a total of 67,811 attendees across all 5 games which set a new NBL record.