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NBL Cup: Sydney Kings hold off South East Melbourne Phoenix

Sydney Kings remain in contention for the NBL Cup after lifting in the second half to defeat South East Melbourne Phoenix 91-85.

The Kings came back from eight points down at John Cain Arena on Saturday night to snap a two-game losing run and extend their unbeaten record against the Phoenix to five matches.

Sydney entered Saturday's clash without a victory against a team currently in the top four, or having held on to win a close game, but achieved both goals thanks to 19 points from Dejan Vasiljevic and a double-double from Casper Ware (11 points, 10 rebounds).

Coach Adam Forde was pleased with the way Sydney responded after giving up 33 points in the second quarter, the win placing them just behind leaders Perth and Melbourne on the NBL Cup table.

"We are doing pretty good in fourth quarters, we are doing pretty good in first quarters and now it's just maintaining that energy and focus," Forde said about his side's mid-game lapses.

"Credit to the guys in the second half, they came out with more intent and got the job done."

South East Melbourne recovered from a slow start to take a four-point lead into halftime, Mitch Creek and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le''afa powering the offence.

But after enduring a rare scoreless half, Ware roared to life with 11 points in the third quarter and the Kings outscored the Phoenix 56-42 in the paint on their way to victory.

"There were elements of the game that I enjoyed about the way we did things but I thought we shot the ball poorly tonight," Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said.

"Sydney's point production in the paint was really solid, we didn't really have any answers though we tried some different looks."

Down by eight early in the second half, Sydney lifted once Ware broke his scoring drought as they stunned the Phoenix with a 19-4 run to set up a 73-65 advantage by the end of the third quarter.

Yanni Wetzell stepped up on offence for the Phoenix in the final term and Creek finished with a game-high 22 points after cutting the margin to three with 90 seconds to play.

But centre Jordan Hunter replied with an acrobatic finish at the rim then stood tall at the defensive end to help the Kings secure the win.