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Kings reign supreme, 36ers struggle in NBL

NZN 20/11/2016 Michael Ramsey

With the NBL season approaching its halfway point, the gap between the haves and have-nots is plain to see.

The powerhouse Sydney Kings sit top of the ladder after defeating the Perth Wildcats 83-72 in the Saturday night home leg of their double-header against the defending champions.

It was a different story in Adelaide where the bottom-placed 36ers slumped to their fourth straight loss, going down 105-87 to Brisbane.

Sydney's success is due in no small part to the firepower they have added to their roster, signing reigning MVP Kevin Lisch, dual Olympian swingman Brad Newley and NBA imports Josh Powell and Steve Blake.

With the NBL allowing each side to sign three imports this season, it has never been more important to add the right players.

But part of that equation is having the money to attract quality talent, something Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright is all too aware of.

The 36ers boast the best scorer in the competition in star guard Jerome Randle but desperately lack depth, and a shortage of funding and corporate backing is preventing them from making any import changes.

"We don't have the finances to do that. It's not even an option for us," Wright said after Saturday's loss.

"That's something we have to accept. We're sticking to the guys we've got who have to step up and get the job done."

NBL general manager Jeremy Loeliger has admitted that several teams are over the league's 'soft' $1.1 million salary cap and will have to contribute to an equalisation subsidy for struggling teams next season.

But Loeliger said talk of a two-tier competition with a division between rich and poor clubs was being proved wrong.

"Everyone said that Cairns, by all rights given the economic situation of respective clubs, should be on the bottom of the ladder but it's just not true," he said earlier this month.

"Everyone says Melbourne at the beginning of the season were the clear favourites and they are sitting at the bottom of the ladder."

Melbourne welcomed back star shooting guard Chris Goulding in style with an 84-79 win over Cairns on Friday night.

Goulding, who was sidelined for a month with an ankle injury, drained eight of his 12 three-point attempts to finish with 30 points.

The Wildcats beat Sydney at home on Thursday but will sweat on the fitness of big man Matt Knight, who injured his shoulder in the return leg in Sydney.

David Stockton, the son of NBA legend John Stockton, scored 17 points on debut to help the New Zealand Breakers to a 100-85 win over Illawarra on Friday.

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