Kings v United and 36ers v Hawks kick off Sunday Hoops

Sunday Hoops gets underway in style with two big NBL matchups

Sydney Kings v Melbourne United

Sydney Kings fans got a taste of the rebuilt side's new style in their 79-74 win over Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday, but not before being put through the agony of a massive scare.

Taking to #NBL22 with their fourth coach in as many years, Sydney quickly established their new identity under Chase Buford as a hard-running, up-tempo side that will be hard to match this season. In contrast, defending champions Melbourne showed their new roster is made of stern stuff after almost running down a 21-point deficit despite the absence of Chris Goulding, Dave Barlow and Jack White.

When Sydney turned on the jets in the second quarter it looked like nothing could stop them, burning their way out to a 21-point advantage in the third quarter. But Melbourne came back hard and if not for some poor execution at critical moments - to be expected in Round 1 - they could have mowed down their rivals. In the end, it came down to a single possession and a vital Shea Ili attempt at a triple that would have forced overtime but fell agonisingly short.

New import Jaylen Adams showed he will be a force to be reckoned with, draining 15 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. Fellow imports Jarell Martin (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists) and RJ Hunter (12 points, six rebounds) rounded out a solid team performance.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05: Matthew Dellavedova of United drives to the basket during the round one NBL match between Sydney Kings and Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena on December 05, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

All eyes were on NBA championship winner and Boomers stalwart Matthew Dellavedova and he was the general United need at times, with nine points and six assists on his stat sheet.

Both sides started their NBL campaign undermanned, with Melbourne missing sharpshooter Goulding (hamstring), veteran Barlow (back) and White (Achilles) while Sydney was missing the electric DJ Vasiljevic (Achilles) and Jordan Hunter (finger).


SYDNEY KINGS 79 (Adams 15, Hunter 12, Martin 12)

MELBOURNE UNITED 74 (Lual-Acuil 12, Agada 11, Okwera 10)

Adelaide 36ers v Illawarra Hawks

The Illawarra Hawks were tough to beat last season but they might well be tough to stop offensively this #NBL22 season on the back of a convincing first up performance beating the Adelaide 36ers 81-71 on the road on Sunday.

Adelaide was up four midway through the second term coming off a loss in Perth on Friday, but from there the Hawks delivered some scintillating basketball to blow the game wide open. Illawarra would end up going on a 27-5 run either side of half-time including 13 straight points to open the third quarter, and that set up the eventual 10-point win to give them the perfect start after a less than ideal preparation.

There was plenty to like for the Hawks with Duop Reath top-scoring with 18 points and nine rebounds fresh off winning bronze with his coach and for the Boomers in Tokyo. Justinian Jessup added 17 points and four steals, Tyler Harvey 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals, Xavier Rathan-Mayes 15 points and Antonius Cleveland six points, four rebounds and two assists including a spectacular reverse throwdown.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05: Xavier Rathan-Mayers of the Hawks shoots for two defended by Cameron Bairstow of the 36ers during the round one NBL match between Adelaide 36ers and Illawarra Hawks at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on December 05, 2021, in Adelaide, [COUNTRY}. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

The 36ers went through the NBL Blitz undefeated winning the Loggins-Bruton Cup, but the coaching career of CJ Bruton has now created a bit of unwanted history with Adelaide losing twice in the opening round of a season for the first ever time. Cam Bairstow was a bright spot again for Adelaide with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists with Isaac Humphries adding 13 points and four rebounds with Daniel Johnson contributing 12 points, four boards and two assists.

Captain Mitch McCarron added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists but import Dusty Hannahs again struggled for five points and four turnovers on 2/10 shooting. The Hawks now look to keep their momentum going up against the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday, but before that the 36ers head to Hobart to face the Tasmania JackJumpers on Thursday.


ADELAIDE 36ERS 71 (Bairstow 15, Humphries 13, McCarron 12, Johnson 12)

ILLAWARRA HAWKS 81 (Reath 18, Jessup 17, Rathan-Mayes 15, Harvey 15)