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Sydney Kings beat Perth Wildcats to take top spot on NBL ladder

Sydney's Denzel Valentine rebounds under pressure from Perth’s Alexandre Sarr and Ben Henshall on Sunday.

Sydney's Denzel Valentine rebounds under pressure from Perth’s Alexandre Sarr and Ben Henshall on Sunday. Photo: Getty

Sydney Kings have moved to the top of the NBL ladder after centre Jordan Hunter starred in a 99-86 defeat of Perth Wildcats.

Pushing for a third straight title, the Kings shook off a slow start at home on Sunday and never trailed after quarter-time.

They are now 4-1 in Mahmoud Abdelfattah’s first season as coach, while the Wildcats have dropped three of their past four games to sit at 2-3.

Hunter came within one rebound of clinching his first double-double since resuming starting centre duties this season, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds.

He and import guard Denzel Valentine orchestrated an 11-3 run to finish the first half that opened up a handy eight-point lead for the Kings.

An ally-oop from Valentine’s three-point attempt was a particularly memorable moment for the big man in this game-defining period.

Perth tore away to a 21-9 lead early on but bench guard Angus Glover iced a three that pulled the Kings level and completed a 12-0 scoring run.

Superstar guard Bryce Cotton threatened to explode with 11 first-quarter points including a three-pointer inside 20 seconds.

But the Kings did well to curb his influence after the first change by sending the size of Hunter and Kouat Noi his way.

The three-time NBL MVP, who averages more points against the Kings than any other team, was scoreless between the eighth minute of the first quarter and the midpoint of the third.

The Wildcats found themselves in foul trouble early in the third quarter, inviting the Kings to extend their lead by fouling four times in the opening two minutes.

Next Star Alex Toohey hit two back-to-back three-pointers from the corner of the arc in the third quarter that pushed the lead to a game-high 15 points and force a timeout.

Cotton came back into the match late to finish with a game-high 22 points but by that point, the Kings’ lead was too sizeable to be threatened.

Tai Webster fouled out late to cap  an afternoon to forget for the Wildcats.

-AAP

Topics: NBL
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