02/03/2024

The Sydney Kings have become back-to-back champions defeating the New Zealand Breakers in Game 5. (Photo: Sydney Kings/Twitter)

The 2023 NBL Championship has finally been decided after an epic five-game series between the Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers, with the Kings tasting back-to-back glory.

Entering the NBL Grand Final with different stories, the Kings looked to go back-to-back for the first time since their three-peat in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Whilst the Breakers were eager to complete a successful transition from last place in NBL22 to taking home the ultimate glory a year later.

In a series that will stay in the memories of fans for years to come, both teams put their all into a very heated championship series. This included both teams winning one home and one away game ahead of tonight’s decider. However, there could only be one winner.

After enduring three knee reconstructions and having a piece of his father’s hamstring in his body, Angus Glover has created himself as the new ‘King of Sydney’.

Labelled ‘Mr Consistent’ on the broadcast, Glover pulled off an exceptional performance leading the Kings to become the ninth NBL side to win back-to-back titles.

Continually getting better over the series, Glover came into Game five with the best plus-minus (9.8) out of all players and a 66 per cent success rate from behind the arc.

Continuing his form coming off the bench, Glover was key in the second and fourth quarters. In the second quarter, he helped drag the Kings from 12 points down to go into the break with a one-point deficit. Setting himself up as a great sidepiece alongside NBL MVP Xavier Cooks and NBL Championship Series MVP Derrick Walton Jr, Glover had an energetic seven points and four rebounds.

His presence on the floor helped revitalise Sydney who struggled to get out of the blocks. While multiple players got in foul trouble, Glover’s reliability offensively and defensively helped light a fire inside of his teammates.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter, Glover returned to the court in the final five minutes. Despite, wincing in pain on the bench after sustaining an injury, this didn’t stop the 24-year-old from returning when coach Chase Buford needed him the most.

Down by seven, with less than five minutes to go, the new ‘King of Sydney’ delivered back-to-back clutch plays. The first was a spectacular dunk after claiming his own rebound, followed by a clutch three-point shot that got the Kings within three points of re-taking the lead.

Not only earning the praise of his teammates, but Glover also earnt full praise of the sold-out home crowd of 18,124. Every time the ball would land in his hands in the final four minutes, the fans rejoiced in happiness.

Glover ended the game as one of the most impactful players and his near double-double (12 points and nine rebounds) was crucial to the Kings’ success.

After the game, Glover earnt praise from head coach Chase Buford and NBL Championship Series MVP Derrick Walton Jr.

“‘Glove’ has been great for us all year. I told him a second ago, he’s probably been the biggest victim of our depth this year because we’ve had a like-for-like replacement at every position,” Buford said post-match.

“He’s earned more minutes than he should have gotten this year.”

Walton Jr also spoke highly about the importance of Glover in the rotation and his toughness.

“He’s always been a team-first guy every day, day in, day out. He’s played well beyond the role he’s supposed to play,” Walton Jr said.

“I feel like obviously, we both agree that he played and made big shots throughout every single game we played, thrown down the stretch probably the last two months.”

“I’m so proud of him. Proud of him and happy for him.”

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As the Kings celebrate their back-to-back titles, it is heartbreak for the New Zealand Breakers. So close, to making their dream a reality, the Breakers couldn’t have played any better tonight, giving it their all.

Under the guidance of on-court general William McDowell-White and Barry Brown Jr, New Zealand were able to get out of the blocks fast but was unable to hold onto its 12-point lead in the second quarter.

The pair played 61 minutes between them, and combined for 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists but couldn’t get the Breakers over the line.

Speaking post-match Breakers coach Mody Maor was disappointed with the outcome of the result.

“Obviously very disappointed. This hurts deeply. I really felt that this team could have gotten it across the line,” Maor said.

“We didn’t play well enough in the last quarter in order to do that. Not gonna run away from how much this hurts me individually and us as an organisation.”

“We are going to use this as fuel to come back better next season.”

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