Harvey back on deck to take on Hawks

BASKETBALL

He has been the forgotten man lately, but James Harvey is still a vital piece of the puzzle in Sydney's quest for a championship.

Sidelined for the past six weeks with an Achilles injury, Harvey will make his comeback on Saturday night against the Wollongong Hawks in Sydney.

The Kings' big three of Sam Young, AJ Ogilvy and Ben Madgen get most of the attention, while American guard Charles Carmouche has also starred a couple of times.

But only Harvey can boast an NBL title.

The 16th-year shooting guard won a championship with Perth in his second season and is one of the league's all-time deadliest shooters.

He is looking forward to returning and adds another offensive dimension to the Kings.

"I probably won't play a whole heap, but I'll definitely suit up and if I can get out there for 10 to 15 minutes, it's a good positive step." Harvey said.

"I've trained the last two weeks and been feeling good and moving well. Managing the Achilles leading into this Christmas break is important, but I just wanted to get back and play some minutes and be part of the team before the break.

"We've got two and a bit weeks off after this game and I'll be cherry ripe by the time we hit New Zealand at the end of the year."

Harvey spoke with Kings coach Shane Heal in the pre-season about filling a sixth-man role off the bench, a change embraced by the 34-year-old former national team rep.

He has missed the past seven games, and third-placed Sydney have done well to compile a 5-5 win-loss record.

Adding the experienced Harvey to the mix should only help.

"We're still in a pretty good position and I can really go hard in the second half of the season," he said. "I'm excited to bring some punch off the bench and I'll just try and provide a positive energy on the floor.

"It was a role that was always set there for me and I have to make sure whatever minutes I play, I come in and I'm aggressive and I hold up my end defensively."

Harvey has played with four NBL clubs and enjoyed his share of good shooting nights against Wollongong over the years.

Watching from the bench as the Hawks beat the Kings 73-69 last week in Wollongong, he thought his team was too stagnant at the offensive end.

"Wollongong did a great job and we didn't share the ball enough," he said.

"We let that match-up zone force us into isolation plays, and the ball stayed in people's hands too long.

"They smashed us on the boards and we're a team that prides itself on rebounding, so moving the ball and rebounding have been two focuses all week.

"To crash the boards you have to be physical. There was a couple of little incidents in that second half last week and the momentum was taken away from us. Wollongong grabbed hold of it and ran with it from that point on.

"Hopefully we can be physical but be smart at the same time."

The Hawks forced Sydney to play a slower-paced half-court game last week.

The Kings are confident of turning the tables and taking the visitors out of their comfort zone tonight.

"We definitely feel we have the talent on paper and if we execute and play team basketball that we can beat the Hawks, but above all the mentality and mindset has to be different," Harvey said.

"If we get the ball up the court quickly and move it from player to player and hit the open man, there's certainly areas of that zone that we can expose weaknesses in.

"Our defence has always been the thing we hang our hat on. Shane likes junking up the defences and that won't change this week. We've got a few things up our sleeve."

Tonight's game is the last for the Hawks and Kings for a fortnight.

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