‘Immature thing to do’: Sydney Kings coach regrets accusing referee of bias

Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford says he understands the criticism he has received for accusing a referee of bias after Sunday’s loss to the Illawarra Hawks, describing it as an immature thing to do.

The NBL on Thursday night fined Buford $10,000 for comments made after his side’s loss to the Hawks, while forward Xavier Cooks was hit with a $2000 fine.

Speaking after the three-point loss, Buford said: I just hope we don’t have Chris [Reid] in charge of Friday night’s play-off game.

Ahead of the first play-off semi-final against the Hawks in Wollongong, Buford said he had not been asked to explain his comments, but was, nonetheless, remorseful.

I’ve got to find a way to not get into a personal battle with officials or anyone else and just focus on our team, he said. [It’s] another growth moment for me.

His coaching rival in Friday’s clash, Brian Goorjian, , saying he had never experienced favouritism by NBL officials in his extensive career in the league.

Buford, in his first year with the Kings since moving from the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, said he had the ultimate respect for six-time NBL championship winner Goorjian.

I’ve got nothing but admiration and respect for all he’s accomplished, both this year and throughout his career, he said.

I understand if he didn’t respect the way I acted the other day . . . I didn’t respect the way [I behaved].

Passions threatened to boil over on the court even before Buford’s fiery press conference, when Wollongong-born guard Angus Glover exchanged heated words with the Hawks’ Harry Froling after the game.

Buford said he didn’t want to see too much of the extracurricular stuff from his players in the best-of-three contest.

It’s two really good teams who don’t like losing to each other, he said. It’s fun when people are excited, and it means something to them, so we hope to come out and deliver a few more great games.

Power forward Xavier Cooks, who was raised in Wollongong where his father, Eric, is a long-time Hawks player and coach, said the rivalry between the two NSW teams added an extra element to the match-up.

Any time you can get your hand up on a really talented team like the Hawks it means a lot, he said. He [Cooks snr] better be going for me.

Hawks guard Justinian Jessup scored a game-high 24 points, while Tyler Harvey made some crucial plays on Sunday, but Cooks said the Hawks’ buckets could come from anywhere.

Duop [Reath] the first game, Sam Froling the second game, Harvey, Jessup – everybody’s stood up, he said.

You can make their shots a lot more difficult, a lot tougher. They’re still going to get their 20 points, but [we hope to] make them work for at least some and tire them down throughout the series.

As for the Kings, Cooks said Jaylen Adams, , would be the one to stand up at the business end of the season.

You can always tell in the big games who shrivels up and who puts their chest out, he said.

Jaylen’s shown time and time again when things get hard he’s stepped up and shown the player that he’s capable of [becoming].

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