It was standing room only in two suburban venues last week, when the Sydney Kings hosted pre-season games against two visiting American University teams.
The Kings hosted the University of New Mexico on Tuesday night at the Bankstown Basketball Stadium, then backed up on Thursday night against Butler University Bulldogs at Newington College.
The Kings started Tuesday’s game strongly, with memorable clashes between their big men Andrew Ogilvy (Hills District), Tom Garlepp and Brad Hill against the Lobos’ giant pairing of centre Alex Kirk and power forward Cameron Bairstow in the paint.
Sydney led 26-24 at the first break and 48-40 at half time, before the Lobos found form to lock the score at 70-70 heading into money-time.
The visitors then made the most of some good fortune in the dying seconds of the final quarter to snatch a thrilling 87-85 win.
New Mexico had started the game as underdogs with the crowd but by the end of the night, had most of the fans cheering every block, dunk and lay-up as the two teams struggled to grab a winning edge.
Australians Bairstow and Hugh Greenwood both had stellar games for the Lobos and should be key players in their team's NCAA campaign.
University of New Mexico Lobos 87 (Kendall Williams 24 points, Cameron Bairstow 22, Alex Kirk 19, Hugh Greenwood 12) def Sydney Kings 85 (James Harvey 27 points, AJ Ogilvy 22, Brad Hill 12, Kevin White 12).
The Kings subsequently lost the services of Ogilvy due to Australian Boomers commitments but the week would end badly for the former Hills District junior representative, who would be ruled out of the 2013 Oceania Series between Australia and New Zealand due to a groin injury.
Butler University Bulldogs 82 (Erik Fromm 18 points; Khyle Marshall 14; Kameon Woods 11 points, 15 boards; Jackson Alderidge 11 points; Kellan Dunham 1o), Sydney Kings 76 (James Harvey 20 points, Brad Hill 19, Tom Garlepp 18).