Mahmoud Abdelfattah
The Sydney Kings have sacked Mahmoud Abdelfattah after their early exit from the NBL Finals. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS
  • basketball

Kings sack Abdelfattah after early NBL Finals exit

Jasper Bruce March 1, 2024

The Sydney Kings have sacked coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah only two days after his first season ended with an early exit from the NBL Finals.

Formerly an assistant at the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Abdelfattah led the Kings to their first losing record (13-15) since the 2017/18 season after taking over from Chase Buford.

The Kings had been hunting their third consecutive title this season but imploded following a 7-3 start to the year, winning only six of their final 19 games.

Despite sneaking into the finals on points percentage, the Kings were the second-worst defensive team by the numbers in front of only last-placed South East Melbourne.

The Kings’ import trio underachieved this season and with a highly talented roster at his disposal, Abdelfattah came under scrutiny for his rotations.

Most notably, wing Angus Glover – Sydney’s hero in the decisive game of the grand-final series last year – fell out of favour.

Glover was overlooked for any game time during the Kings’ loss to the New Zealand Breakers in Wednesday night’s elimination play-in game.

AAP has been told some senior figures at the Kings had been ready to fire Abdelfattah earlier in the season before being talked down.

But when the injury-hit Breakers travelled to Sydney and eliminated his side from the finals, Abdelfattah’s fate appeared to have been sealed with a year left to run on his contract.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make, however, we have an obligation to our members and fans and felt a change was needed,” said chief executive Chris Pongrass.

“We would like to thank Mahmoud for his contributions to the Kings organisation and the Sydney community as a whole.

“He is a well-respected and talented coach and it was a pleasure to work alongside him this season.

“Mahmoud’s character, work ethic and constant positive outlook cannot be questioned.

“We are grateful for everything he has done this season and for the impact he made on this club.”

The Kings now turn their attention to finding a new coach, with Brian Goorjian a natural candidate.

Currently in charge of Australia’s national team, Goorjian coached Sydney to three consecutive titles between 2003 and 2005 and most recently mentored Illawarra in the NBL two years ago.

Goorjian said in January he was keen on a return to the NBL once the Boomers’ Paris Olympics campaign concluded this winter.

But the two positions to which he had been linked, at the Adelaide 36ers and Illawarra Hawks, have since been filled by respective interim coaches Scott Ninnis and Justin Tatum.