Some late heroics from Nathan Sobey have ensured the Brisbane Bullets inflicted the Illawarra Hawks' first loss of the NBL season, winning 96-92 at Nissan Arena.
Before a capacity crowd in their first home game, Tokyo Olympian Sobey totalled 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, with nine of those points coming in the fourth quarter to steer his side to an important win on Sunday.
Brisbane led by as many as 15 early in the second quarter before the Hawks slowly clawed their way back, briefly taking the lead in the third period behind some great team defence led by Antonious Cleveland.
Sobey had been relatively quiet but the Bullets put the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter and he quickly got hot, aggressively attacking the basket while also playing facilitator to Robert Franks.
Franks, who's averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, finished with 16 points and seven boards, and shoting at 50 per cent on eight attempts from beyond the arc.
Along with Brisbane's physicality on defence, it was shooting that separated the sides as the Bullets registered 50 per cent from the field and a scorching 43 per cent from beyond the arc to go with 18 of 25 from the free-throw line.
Bullets coach James Duncan had high praise for 31-year-old Sobey who was a late inclusion after injury concerns.
"He's just a warrior, just tough as nails, obviously made huge plays, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line, kicking out - he did a great job of trusting his teammates throughout the course of the game," Duncan said.
"We didn't really know if he was going to play. He sent me a message just this morning like 'I'm good to go coach'.
"When you're able to win your home games especially this first one being back, it feels good and I'm very happy for the guys, proud of the guys and how they approached the game."
Hawks coach Brian Goorjian, who coached Sobey to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, had high praise for the Boomer, saying the final period was a lesson to his team on containing star talent.
"He's the kind of guy, as is Bryce (Cotton) in Perth, that takes it over down the crunch time and he did that tonight," Goorjian said.
"I had the joy of having him in in the bronze medal team and he was tremendous - played a tremendous role for us.
"A great kid, great player and, you know, you do everything you can to beat him but I have a total respect for him as a player and a person and he was great tonight in the crunch."