Creek, Phoenix rise to end tough week by beating Kings

Jasper Bruce |

Mitch Creek has led the Phoenix to an upset 10-point NBL win over the Sydney Kings.
Mitch Creek has led the Phoenix to an upset 10-point NBL win over the Sydney Kings.

South East Melbourne Phoenix have rebounded from a turbulent week to upset back-to-back NBL champions the Sydney Kings with a 104-94 win at Qudos Bank Arena.

Captain Mitch Creek stabilised the play-off hopefuls on Sunday only days after learning teammate Craig Moller would miss the rest of the season injured and import Will Cummings had been cut.

After a high-scoring start to a game characterised by small leads, Creek (33 points, three rebounds) orchestrated a 15-2 run in the third quarter that blew the advantage out to 18.

“He can just turn it on whenever he wants,” Phoenix guard Matt Kenyon said of his teammate.

“For him to be putting the pressure on them like that and constantly getting to the free-throw line and slowing it down, I think that really helped us.”

Creek hit two three-pointers and dunked on transition in that 15-2 run, which came as South East Melbourne’s other star player Alan Williams went to the bench in foul trouble.

American big man Williams (21 points, 15 rebounds) returned later, having been the star of the show early on with 18 first-half points.

Alan WIlliams.
Alan Williams played a strong hand for the Phoenix, with 21 points. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Sydney managed to cut the lead to six points as import guard Jaylen Adams (19 points) threatened to pull his side into the contest but their fourth-quarter momentum was short-lived.

The visitors closed in on victory when Creek hit his third triple to restore the game-high 18-point margin and force a timeout with just less than four minutes to play.

“We just didn’t compete,” Kings coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah said after the loss.

“You’ll never get anywhere in life if you’re just going to let people walk all over you, it doesn’t matter what you do in life. 

“If you’re not going to compete, it’s just going to be the same result over and over.”

The win was only the Phoenix’s second away from home from seven games this season and helped them bump the Kings out of third spot on the ladder after 10 rounds.

“I’m super proud of the group tonight,” Phoenix coach Mike Kelly said, reflecting on the side’s tough week.

“Whether we won or lost, that was the way we wanted to play. 

“So many guys stepped up, guys that are normal starters that we depend on, but also young guys.

“It was special.”

Sydney have now lost three of their last four games, conceding more than 100 points in all of those defeats.

Things won’t grow any easier as the second-placed Tasmania JackJumpers await in Hobart next weekend.

“We’re scoring enough points but this is not football, this is not baseball – you’ve got to play both ends,” Abdelfattah said.

The Kings are hopeful Kouat Noi will recover from knee soreness for the game.

South East Melbourne expect to have guard Reuben Te Rangi back for Thursday’s match against Melbourne United after he missed the Sydney road trip to attend the birth of his child.