The Sydney Kings will rely on their bench players to gain the upper hand in the NBL championship series as injuries to NBA-bound Xavier Cooks and import guard Derrick Walton jnr persist.
In the previous game against the New Zealand Breakers, Walton suffered leg cramps and Cooks struggled with a corked thigh and ankle injury.
Justin Simon filled the void left by the injured players in game two and will be a key player for the Kings as they face the Breakers at home for the first time this season.
Simon’s six steals, a career-best and one off an NBL grand final record, helped the Kings gain critical momentum in the previous game.
Cooks said that the Kings planned to bring their aggressive and willing mentality to take the ball to the basket to their home court.
The Kings made 34 trips to the free-throw line in game two, an increase from 28 in game one.
Despite the potential distraction of his newly signed NBA contract, Cooks is determined to lock away another back-to-back title with the Kings.
However, the Kings will have to defy a nearly three-decade-long trend that saw 25 out of the last 26 NBL trophies lifted by the team that won the opening game of the series.
If the Kings win the championship, they will only be the fifth team in NBL history to do so without winning game one.
In game three, Breakers coach Mody Maor said his team would focus on maintaining consistent defense and composure to overcome challenges in the championship series.