ANDREW Bogut helped Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge create one of his fondest memories when they combined to claim the 2003 Junior World Championship for Australia.
At Qudos Bank Arena on Friday night, Bogut gave Beveridge nightmares as he led the Sydney Kings to a dominant 86-79 victory over the Hawks.
The Kings marquee man put on a show against his former mentor to finish with a game-high 21 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.
Bogut was one rebound short of a double-double in the first half while he produced two thunderous dunks to have the Kings faithful on their feet.
The former NBA champion also etched his name in the history books as the first NBL player to record at least three blocks in five games to start a season.
Beveridge may have lost to his long-term friend and ex-player but he was full of admiration for the Kings star post-match.
Asked what it felt like to be on the other end of a Bogut masterclass, he jokingly said: “Bastard. But how good was he (Bogut) tonight. He totally intimidated us and he went at our bigs and he just showed all class.
“He kicked my arse and he is an incredible player.”
Bogut was brilliant for Sydney but he wasn’t alone.
Pint-sized point guard Jerome Randle broke a few Illawarra ankles on his way to 13 points while swingman Brad Newley had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Skipper Kevin Lisch celebrated his 200th NBL game in style with 12 points and three assists.
Back-up guard Kyle Adnam was enormous off the bench with nine points and five assists while forward Daniel Kickert added nine points.
Emerging guard Tom Wilson also returned from a knee injury to make his NBL debut.
Sydney led by as much as 22 but Illawarra refused to go away to force a grandstand finish.
The seven point win helped the Kings snap a two-game losing streak against the Hawks.
Coach Andrew Gaze was pleased with the win but stressed his side still had plenty of room for improvement.
“I think we look at ourselves and we say we’ve got a long way to go to consider ourselves a playoff team,” Gaze said.
“We are not there yet but we’ve got some areas where if we just harness that good stuff and get more of that good stuff, then with the tools and talent we’ve got we can get there.
“But you can’t have 20 turnovers in one game. The competition is too close.”
Sydney face a big challenge on Monday night against defending champions United in Melbourne.
Gaze believes the Kings are perfectly-placed to perform strongly against the NBL’s benchmark side.
“The ultimate test is to try and beat the champion and we get a privileged opportunity to do that in front of a big crowd and in a great city,” he said.
“We are really excited about it and we go into that game with a lot more confidence based on a win.
“It is going to be a fun night.”