PUT down your red pen, the Sydney Kings aren’t done with yet.
Inspired by a potent shooting performance from guard Jason Cadee, the Kings keep their playoff hopes alive with a hard fought 81-72 victory over Cairns on Thursday night.
On the back of a successful week in Boomers camp, Cadee confidently unleashed his skills to finish with 16 points – including four of eight from beyond the arc.
But he wasn’t alone in Sydney’s best team effort of the season.
Jason Cadee returned from Boomers camp to fire the Kings past Cairns.
Import centre Jeremy Tyler overcame his foul troubles to score 15 points and grab seven rebounds in a memorable home court debut.
Tyler was also impressive on the defensive end with two blocks to help the Kings create a feared presence in the paint.
Fellow recruit Jerome Randle also excelled on debut in Sydney, scoring a joint team-high 16 points alongside Cadee.
Rising centre Isaac Humphries continued his rise with nine points and three rebounds, while veteran swingman Brad Newley dropped eight points and provided valuable energy at the back end of the game.
Andrew Gaze was all smiles as Jeremy Tyler returns to the pine.
More importantly for their playoff hopes, the Kings found their grit in defence to out punch the notoriously dogged Taipans over four quarters.
Sydney has leaked over 97 points per game this season, but they managed to tighten their defence against a willing Cairns outfit.
The Taipans trailed by as many as 20 points, but got within six in the final quarter before the Kings held on to record a crucial win.
Unfortunately, the victory was soured with Todd Blanchfield and Perry Ellis suffering injuries.
Ellis hurt his shoulder in the first quarter, before bravely returning and departing again.
Blanchfield had an accidental head clash with Humphries in the second quarter. He was down for minutes with heavy concussion, before being assisted off the court and not returning.
Coach Andrew Gaze confirmed Blanchfield won’t play in the return leg against the Taipans in Cairns on Saturday night, while Ellis is questionable.
Jason Cadee finished with 16 points.
Despite the setbacks, Gaze is refusing to give up on the season.
He knows the Kings have to create history to make the playoffs by winning 12 of their final 16 games, but he has urged his team to defy the doubters.
“No one believes, expect for what is in our locker room,” Gaze said.
“And that’s okay. They’ve got justification not to believe.
“Like I said to the fellas, the different challenges you face make the journey tougher but they make the reward better.
“So hopefully we can get through this and prove everyone wrong.”
Gaze was proud of his players’ resilience against Cairns, especially when injuries hit and the Taipans stormed home in the final quarter.
Todd Blanchfield had to be assisted from the court.
He was pinpointed a three-pointer from Randle in the closing stages as a key moment in the match.
“They (Cairns) got within six points and Jerome came in and hit a massive shot to extend our lead from six to nine.
“In the context of the game it was a massive play.
“Given where we are at and the adversity we’ve faced this season, this game was a real good character test for us.
“Someone wants to make it tougher for us with a few injuries, but that’s OK. “We’ll do our best to deal with that. We’ve got great depth and we’re provided with great resources, so now it’s up to us to continue on this journey.”
The Kings have now won seven straight games against Cairns at Qudos Bank Arena, while they snapped a five-game losing run that was the equal ninth worst losing stretch in franchise history.