The Sydney Kings, boosted no doubt by having a 12-year NBA veteran presence on the club in the form of Andrew Bogut, came close to dealing a defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers in an NBL versus NBA matchup.
Close, but no cigar. The Clippers are the “other” Los Angeles team in the NBA and they seldom do much in the NBA, save a couple of Pacific Division titles from 2013 and 2014.
Still, it is a valid measure of the strides the NBL has made in upping the quality of its product.
The game between the Clippers and the Kings was competitive into the fourth quarter, something that cannot be said of the no-contest contest between Perth Wildcats and Utah Jazz.
It was a great excuse for a junket to Hawaii.
The Kings ultimately went down to the Clippers by the score of 110 – 91, a valid indication that the NBL is bent on improving, but losing to low ranking teams such as the Clippers is something like us taking the football field against the All Blacks and later bragging that we had lost by only 70 points. Bogut seemed to pick up where he left off as an NBA player, contributing eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Sydney’s Jerome Randle poured in 25 points and demonstrated that his calibre is roughly equivalent to that of some NBA players and Randle’s outburst came against one of the NBA’s premier defensive pairs in Patrick Beverly and Avery Bradley.
It was the first outing of the upcoming season for the Clippers and they showed a balanced effort, with seven of their players scoring 10 points or more.
The pre-season play did much to boost the image of the NBL as the teams participating went up against some of the better players of the NBA, including Philadelphia 76ers Rookie of the Year and Aussie native Ben Simmons, who took the court in an exhibition win over last year’s NBL champion Melbourne United.