The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

THE stage was set for a fairy­tale NBL de­but for An­drew Bogut but the mis­fir­ing Syd­ney Kings failed to ex­e­cute down the stretch as they fell to Ade­laide.

The Kings were per­fectly placed, lead­ing by six points with six min­utes re­main­ing, be­fore they crashed, evok­ing for­get­table mem­o­ries of the old “Vi­o­let Crum­bles” days.

Ade­laide went on a 19-2 run in the fourth quar­ter to claim a 94-83 win and con­tinue their dom­i­na­tion over Syd­ney.

The 36ers have now won 10 straight matches against the Kings, in­clud­ing 14 of their past 15.

Syd­ney coach An­drew Gaze was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult, shoul­der­ing blame for the loss. Gaze con­ceded he should have given star guard Jerome Ran­dle, who fin­ished with a game-high 28 points, more rest to freshen him up down the stretch.

“That is one of the re­grets I have not find­ing a few more min­utes for Jerome on the bench,” Gaze lamented, post-match.

“In hind­sight I prob­a­bly played him too long and he needed a spell. He might have had a few more legs for us in that last quar­ter.

“We fell into a game style where we were re­ly­ing on that bril­liance and we went all in on that and it didn’t work.

“So it was a mis­take and I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that. I should have made some changes but I wasn’t able to get that done. The guys can also shoot a lot bet­ter than what they did and a lot of that is on me to help them get bet­ter looks. So the coach can wear a fair bit of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the game.”

Gaze was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with Syd­ney’s sub­stan­dard de­fence in the fourth quar­ter. “We got ex­posed,” Gaze said. “Down the stretch, the ease in which they were able to score was a con­cern. They also got too many of­fen­sive boards. It also comes down to putting the ball in the hole and we had some shots that we’d nor­mally make.

“But to give up a 30-point last quar­ter, it was a very sig­nif­i­cant last quar­ter and a bad patch of bas­ket­ball that cost us dearly.”

It was sup­posed to be all about cen­tre An­drew Bogut’s his­toric NBL de­but but Ran­dle stole the show for Syd­ney. On a day when he de­clared his cham­pi­onship am­bi­tion, the diminu­tive play­maker de­liv­ered on his word with a scin­til­lat­ing dis­play. The Chicago-born guard also ral­lied his team­mates with some choice words in the post-game hud­dle. Kings for­ward Daniel Kick­ert said Ran­dle’s mes­sage was sim­ple.

“It was ba­si­cally to just stick to­gether,” Kick­ert said.

Bogut fouled out in his maiden NBL out­ing but fin­ished with six points and 15 re­bounds, 10 of those com­ing in the first quar­ter alone.

An­drew Bogut tasted de­feat on his Syd­ney Kings de­but yes­ter­day. Pic­ture: Brett Costello

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