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Slumping Kings lose star import Blake

AAP logoAAP 28/11/2016

It looks like the honeymoon might be over for the Sydney Kings.

After winning five of their first six games, the NBL leaders suddenly have a tenuous hold on top spot following round eight losses to Melbourne United (95-92) and Adelaide (91-85).

Monday night's shock home loss to the last-placed 36ers was further soured by post-game revelations that American import Steve Blake had almost certainly made his final appearance for the club.

The Kings have granted Blake indefinite leave on compassionate grounds and the 36-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers guard will fly out of Sydney this morning.

Blake, Kings coach Andrew Gaze and managing director Jeff Van Groningen informed the players shortly after Monday's loss.

"Steve has fitted into the Kings family with ease and has become a popular figure with his teammates, but it's crucial he immediately return to the States to be with his own family," Van Groningen said in a club statement.

"Sydney Kings ownership, management and coaching staff stand united with Steve and fully support his decision to return home at this time."

It is understood Blake is returning home to be with a close relative who is battling a serious illness.

He played 10 games with the Kings, averaging less than six points off the bench as he struggled to find his once-deadly shooting stroke.

"I have been enjoying my time with the Kings and under different circumstances would have been concentrating on our upcoming games," Blake said.

"However, my priority at this time is to be with my family."

Sydney's record stands at 8-6, though they have lost five of their past eight games and are battling to hold off the tightest bunch of chasers in the NBL history.

Based on win-loss records, the competition has never been so close from top to bottom.

"We're not playing at the level of intensity we need to on every single possession when the margin for error is so, so small," Gaze said.

"We've got some challenges and we need to figure it out."

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