Creek wears blame as Phoenix falls short

23 November, 10:36
Sydney Kings coach Will Weaver knew what Mitch Creek and John Roberson's South East Melbourne Phoenix were capable of.

Free-flowing, dynamic and aggressive basketball is, after all, Phoenix DNA.

The green machine attacks often and in waves behind figureheads Creek and Roberson.

The Kings led by 20 points at one stage yet left Melbourne Arena just four points, 90-86, to the good.

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Roberson, who splashed 15 of his game-high equal 25 points in the third quarter, put Phoenix in front for the first time with 48 seconds to go, but Kings star Casper Ware, no stranger to Melbourne, hit back instantly.

Phoenix would then get 13 seconds to pinch the game but fell short, Creek attacking the rim but turning the ball the over.

Creek claimed responsibility for not getting a shot up, or putting someone else in the position to attempt the go-ahead bucket.

"I have to be able to make that play," Creek said.

"Whether it is shoot the ball and live with the loss, by getting an attempt, (but) we didn't get a field goal attempt on that last play and that's what's pissing me off right now.

"You miss it, you miss it, you make it, you make it, but if you throw it out of bounds you don't give yourself a chance to win so I take the blame for that one."

Creek said he saw a lane to the bucket and went for it before changing his mind.

"I saw Dane (Pineau) out of the corner of my eye and I thought I could give him one," Creek said.

"He was in a good position (but) I threw him an absolute stinker of a curveball and the people in the front row caught it."

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell also lamented what might have been.

"We've probably paper mache over a little bit, at times, with our shooting and now the shooting's not been so hot the last couple of games you can go back and go 'gee that turnover hurt or that mismatch hurt'," Mitchell said.

"I'm really proud of the way we stuck with it, I mean, it's pretty easy to roll over when you've got the big dogs in town and you're down 20-odd and things aren't going your way.

"But we found an energy, which is always encouraging to find and test your character and I thought the guys passed that test with flying colours."

Kings coach Will Weaver has vowed to iron out the offensive breakdowns, namely poor screens, which allowed Phoenix to erase a 20-point deficit.

"My early sense is we aren't adjusting well enough to how much wood you can lay," Weaver said.

"We need to set much more physical screens as a team... we have some of the best screeners in the league and I'm holding them back... I've got to find a better way to, I mean, (what we will do is) set 40 half-court pick-and-rolls and just tee off on those little guards and see if they can handle it."


Weaver is convinced, having kept tabs on Creek's NBL campaign, a return to the NBA is a case of when, not if, for the Phoenix marquee.

Creek has stuffed Phoenix stats sheets through 10 games this season to emerge as an early NBL MVP contender.

"The way he's really dominated the first 10 games of this season (it's hard not to) be excited about what that total package might look like in an NBA locker-room," Weaver said.

NBA scouts in Australia checking out LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton have also taken notice of Creek and Kings import Jae'Sean Tate.

"They're in similar boats, chasing the pursuit of something really hard, one of 450 spots in the best league on the planet," Weaver said.


It started in Boomers' camps, a relationship built on Weaver being able to break down the game in a "very analytic form" for Creek.

It strengthened last year, as Creek suited up for the Weaver-coached Brooklyn Nets G-League affiliate Long Island and has continued ever since.

Weaver was one of the first people to ring Creek when he got an NBA call-up at the Nets.

"I started bawling my eyes out to him," Creek said.

Despite both being locked into respective seasons, the lines of communication remain open -- be it personal or basketball.


"He's exactly the kind of person, if you're starting an expansion team, you want to have on your side."


"He's very much like (Adelaide 36ers coach) Joey Wright, he gets the best out of his players. He's got a good balance between work and play, seriousness and fun and a good, quirky sense of humour."