Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford has come out firing, suggesting his side has been unfairly disadvantaged by NBL officials in the championship-deciding series.
Buford stormed out of Sunday night’s press conference after their second loss to the New Zealand Breakers in the best-of-five game grand final series.
In the presser, the coach suggested the Breakers’ physicality was extreme, referees had played favourites, and that Breakers CEO Matt Walsh had influenced officialdom.
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The 80-70 win for the Breakers means the championship will go to a fifth and deciding match at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night.
Buford gave credit to the Breakers initially but soon began snapping at reporters.
Asked whether it was difficult to know how officials would adjudicate the match, Buford offered a terse response.
“After Matt Walsh’s tweet I knew exactly how tonight was going to be called, and it was called exactly as I thought it would,” he said.
“They were allowed to get away with stuff they weren’t allowed to in the first two games,” he later added.
Asked how the Kings would respond, Buford said, “We’ll do the same shit.”
Buford was pushed to elaborate on his assessment that the Breakers were able to “get away with stuff”, at which point he suggested there was an imbalance on the foul count.
“There was no freedom of movement,” he explained.
“At one point it was 11-2, the foul count in the second half.”
When pushed further on the matter, he chimed back, “It was clear, do you need me to help you?”
On balance, the Breakers were fouled 17 times while the Kings incurred 20 fouls. At halftime, the foul count was even at 10 apiece.
The only real disparity was the free-throw count at 26 to 14 in favour of the Breakers.
In the end, one question tipped Buford over the edge.
Asked if physicality was not part of the game, he shook his head, said “I’m good, thanks man” and then slapped the table before walking out.
Breakers coach Mody Maor was non-plussed when asked about Buford’s blow-up and denied suggestions of favouritism by referees.
“I’ve heard what happened. This happened here in the beginning of the season too,” said Maor.
“Honestly, it doesn’t even bother me, the reaction.
“Everybody is doing the best that they can. I sat here after the third game in the series and I didn’t say one peep about the referees because they are doing the best that they can.
“All the other noise, man, it belongs somewhere else. So don’t ask me about this. I for sure didn’t get any help from anybody to win this game.”
Posed with the same question about physicality, Moar said, “His team plays very physical basketball.
“Do not paint this as we play physical and they don’t. They play extremely physical and we love it.
“This is what we want in the playoffs. So, all the noise to try and get a whistle for the next game, I’m not taking part in this.
“(The referees) don’t let us do any. They ref us the same way they ref everyone. Nobody lets us do anything.”
The final match in the championship-deciding series takes place on Wednesday at 7.30pm (AEDT).
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