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Kings surge to beat Cairns in NBL thriller

The Sydney Kings were forced to scrap their way to a NBL season-opening victory against the Cairns Taipans, with a late surge producing a 79-71 victory at the Cairns Convention Centre.

Star recruit Casper Ware (23 points) and skipper Kevin Lisch (18) were the standouts for the Kings, who trailed for most of Friday night's contest before the plucky Taipans faded.

The home side led by as much as 13 points in the third term before the Kings found their feet with a blistering fourth quarter.

Sydney trailed by six at the final break before outscoring the hosts 22-8 down the stretch to run out comfortable winners.

Rookie Kings coach Will Weaver was pleased to be able to walk away with a win, despite not playing their best basketball.

"Ideally we don't want to be giving up those leads and crawling our way back," he said.

Weaver praised the fourth-quarter performance of Jae'sean Tate, who provided a physical presence in the closing stages.

"Everywhere he goes, the wins follow. He plays harder than almost everybody. He's the strongest, hardest playing dude that we've encountered," he said.

Veteran Andrew Bogut also pulled in 12 rebounds and enjoyed a spirited clash with Nate Jawai (10 points, 6 rebounds) throughout the clash.

The new-look Cairns team was spearheaded by first-year NBL player Kouat Noi, who scored 14 points and grabbed in 12 rebounds.

Imports Scott Machado (13), Cameron Oliver (13) and DJ Newbill (10) also provided headaches for the Kings.

Sydney will walk away relieved that missed opportunities did not prove costly.

The Kings went 0-7 from the free-throw line before Lucas Walker broke the drought against his former club.

They finished with 14 from 24 from the charity stripe.

Sydney, who host Adelaide next Saturday, was without star youngster Didi Louzada who was a late withdrawal with a back injury.

A full-strength Cairns team will hope to bounce back against Brisbane on Friday night.