Sydney's Alex Toohey says the Kings stand up in do-or-die situations like tonight's Play-In Qualifier.

25 Feb
Dan Woods for

Both the Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers have their backs against the wall in tonight’s Play-In Qualifier. It’s win or go home, and Sydney Next Star Alex Toohey believes it’s these types of situations where his team thrives.


The Kings will host the Breakers in what is a rematch of last season’s Championship Series. They’ve won both of their regular season clashes played against New Zealand at Qudos Bank Arena in NBL24, and opposition head coach Mody Maor even labelled Sydney as favourites earlier in the week.

After they started the season with a 7-3 record, the Kings slumped to win just six of their final 18 games in the regular season to secure a Play-In position.

Some of those wins have come in dire circumstances though. A defeat to the Phoenix in Round 20 would have kicked the Kings out of the top six, and they won that game by 55 points. A defeat to ladder leaders Melbourne in Round 17 would have struck a brutal blow to Sydney’s post-season hopes, and they won that game by 12.

Toohey says his side’s proven ability to win when the chips are down will hold them in good stead ahead of tonight’s contest.

“Under pressure is when you show who you truly are and with what our team is up to and able to do when our back is against the wall, I think we’re able to step up,” Toohey told SEN.

“We know our back is against the wall for the next – hopefully – few games, and I think that’s going to take our team to the next level. We’re all just itching to get out there, I know I am personally. I can’t wait to get out there and put everything on the line.

“We all understand how important this game is and it’s going to come down to every single possession we have. From the start we have to make sure we’re locked in and taking care of the ball and trying to do everything we can to help the team win.

“It’s up to us to try and get ourselves back out of that rough patch, and we’re going to have some good games of basketball ahead – hopefully starting with getting that win.”

Although the Kings have registered two wins in three games against the Breakers this season, Toohey is still wary of the threat New Zealand poses to the back-to-back reigning champions.

Where Sydney faltered in the late stages of the regular season, the Breakers flew, and narrow victories over fellow Finals hopefuls Illawarra and Tasmania put the side in a position to climb up the ladder, before their Round 20 win over Brisbane secured post-season basketball.

“They’re obviously a talented team and a well-coached unit,” Toohey said of New Zealand. “I think it all starts with their point guard, Parker Jackson-Cartwright. He’s a terrific player and he’s been leading them the whole season.

“They’ve had a few injuries with some of their main players but they’ve got some good shooters on the wing and some of their bigs are super athletic. It’s going to be important that we rebound and keep the guards out of the paint and make sure we’re forcing them into some tough shots.

“It’s been a longer period of time since our last game, so we’ve really had time to knuckle down on our game plan and make sure everyone’s on the same page with how we’re trying to attack it. I think everyone’s ready and everyone’s going to be up for it.”

The Play-In Qualifier between Sydney and New Zealand will tip off tonight at 7:30pm AEDT, live on ESPN via Kayo.

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