The Illawarra Hawks continue to impress under new coach Justin Tatum with a hard-fought 94-90 victory over the Sydney Kings on Christmas Day at Qudos Bank Arena. The Sydney Kings have been dominant against the Hawks in recent years, but Illawarra has shown notable improvement since Tatum’s arrival. The team’s grit and determination were on display during the Christmas evening game, reflecting the positive changes under Tatum’s leadership. The Hawks were able to overcome an 18-point deficit in the second quarter to secure the win, demonstrating the resilience instilled in them by Tatum. Their victory brings their season record to 6-9 with four wins in six games since Tatum took over. Tatum praised the efforts of young player Lachlan Olbrich, highlighting the team’s depth and readiness. For the Sydney Kings, it was a double loss round after being defeated by New Zealand on Friday, resulting in a slipping season record of 9-8. Jaylen Adams, DJ Hogg, and Kouat Noi contributed to the Kings’ performance, but they were unable to match the Hawks’ energy. In another Christmas Day NBL game, the South East Melbourne Phoenix secured a morale-boosting 85-77 win over the Tasmania JackJumpers. Despite facing numerous challenges and injuries, the Phoenix displayed immense heart and character to secure the victory. Alan Williams and Gary Browne played crucial roles in the team’s success, earning praise from coach Mike Kelly. The JackJumpers, although boasting strong performances from Jack McVeigh and Milton Doyle, were outworked by the Phoenix, resulting in their defeat. The Phoenix’s impressive win showcased their unwavering effort and determination, signifying a turning point in their season.