The pressure is building on defending NBL champions Sydney, but coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah isn’t feeling it, even after a loss to the bottom-placed Adelaide 36ers.
Thursday night’s contest in front of a record South Australian crowd of 9580 at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre featured the last-placed Sixers against a Kings team needing a win.
The 36ers played with heart, desperation, focus and great intent to remain locked in defensively while executing well offensively, fighting for the 50-50 balls and running out deserved winners, 95-82.
It was an eighth loss in their past 11 games to be 10-11 and clinging to a top-six position ahead of hosting the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday.
The Kings shot 35 per cent as a team with 5-of-33 from three-point range, as star trio Jaylen Adams, Denzel Valentine and Jonah Bolden combined to go 9-of-39 while missing all 14 from downtown.
NBAL analyst Corey “Homicide” Williams is calling for a total overhaul at the Kings with the former NBL MVP ranting on social media that they were no chance of defending their title.
“I’ve seen enough… Fire Head Coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah. Fire all 3 of the imports. (even with DJ they’d look the same.) Fine the whole team one month’s salary. Make history and appoint coach Fleur McIntyre Interm Head Coach. @SydneyKings SEASON IS OVER. #Nbl24“
First-year coach Abdelfattah is feeling good and confident of his team getting back on track.
“I’m good, I’m in good health and obviously not winning isn’t fun but I’m positive about the whole situation,” he said.
“It’s just understanding what’s ahead and we have the same group in the locker room as what got us start off the season 7-3 and we just have to find that again.
“If a few more shots went down it changes the whole game and we just have to get one under our belt, and when we do that hopefully we can finish the season off strong.”
While the big guns fired once more, led by Trey Kell III (27 points, seven rebounds, five assists), Isaac Humphries (18 points, 12 boards, three blocks), DJ Vasiljevic (12 points, eight assists) and Jacob Wiley (13 points, seven rebounds), the role players also stepped up.
Sunday Dech was outstanding defensively and scored 13 points, while Kyrin Galloway had an impressive cameo with six points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“We’ve won three games now in this short period of time so it is pleasing and there’s certainly been improvements in a lot of areas,” Ninnis said.
“We’ll continue to build on that and there was an opportunity to change a lot mid-season obviously but there’s certainly been buy-in with what we’re doing at both ends of the court.
“There’s a desperation now over these last two games in particular that has been very, very pleasing.”