Kids meet their heroes

THERE was no castle, throne or crown — just hoops, drills and eyes of admiration when the Sydney Kings basketball team led a super clinic at the Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre on Friday.

Ahead of their first game of the 2012/2013 season next week, the Kings directed local young basketball enthusiasts through dribbling, passing and shooting exercises.

Darnell Lazare, recruited from from the NBA Development League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants in Louisiana, said it was "always fun to come back and give to the community."

"When I was growing up I used to look forward to these types of camps just to see people older than me playing," Lazare said.

"You remember those moments because you're used to seeing them on TV, you watch them play, so to actually get to see them in person, it's like a dream come true."

Among the participants was Rosalind Goldrick, 10, of Claremont Meadows. She said the clinic was really good. "It's really fun and I love it".

Evan Theoctistou, 9, of Castle Hill said he thought the Kings would win the NBL premiership.

Kings head coach Shane Heal said the team hoped to connect with and gain more supporters through interacting with young players and fans on the basketball court.

"People who play and love the sport are the people we want to come and support us," Heal said.

"So it's really important for us to be able to get to the grassroots.

"We need as many fans as we can, we need to build a home court advantage so other teams find it difficult to be able to come to Sydney and if we can get that, then it gives us an opportunity to make the play offs."

One of Heal's closest friends is Matt Nielsen, who was a Penrith junior and who captained the Australian Boomers at the London Olympics.

Heal said he had no doubt there were future basketball champions at the clinic.

As for the Kings' NBL campaign, he said it would be a really challenging season as the team rebuilt.

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