A gritty second-half performance by the Wollongong Hawks delivered them a 79-76 season-opening win over the Sydney Kings at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday.
The Hawks, who built a 12-point advantage early in the fourth quarter only to be chased down, had to survive a difficult game-tying attempt by Sydney guard Aaron Bruce in the final seconds.
Veteran Glen Saville turned back the clock with a masterful second-half, pouring in 15 of his team-high 21 points.
"The opportunities just came my way tonight and I made the most of them, got open and hit a couple of nice shots," Saville said.
"It's unfamiliar, particularly from last season, 21 points would have taken me three or four games to do that."
Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said he has been "really lucky" to have had "guys like Sav and Matty (Campbell)" at the club.
"They work as hard, if not harder than anyone in the group because they want to keep that spot and they're not going to let anyone get it, that helps push our group.''
High-flying Lance Hurdle instantly won over his new home crowd, skying for a slick alley-oop from Rhys Martin on the first possession.
Hurdle finished with 10 points, while Adris Deleon added a spark off the bench with 12 including a tough baseline jumper on his first touch.
Sydney's Darnell Lazare worked hard all night for his team-high 21 points and seven rebounds, Corin Henry had 15 points and six assists and Ben Madgen added 11 points.
''I leave the stadium with more disappointments than positives, I couldn't be more disappointed with the way we came out,'' Kings coach Shane Heal said.
''We showed some character to come back ... but we're so new in our processes, we're breaking down in so many different areas because it's just not second nature to us yet.''
Wollongong jumped the Kings 13-6 in the opening moments with Martin and Hurdle pacing their transition attack.
They led by 10 on a string of threes by Oscar "The Shot" Forman (13 points) and Deleon until Sydney regrouped to pull within 26-20 at quarter-time.
A gutsy pull-up three by Madgen sparked a 9-0 run that set up the Kings first lead of the game at 32-31.
Lazare found his feet and combined nicely with Ian Crosswhite to produce eight quick points and open a brief five-point buffer.
Wollongong rallied to lock the scores late in the half, but a Madgen basket and Henry triple put the Kings up 43-40 at the main break.
Despite having to sit both Madgen and James Harvey with three fouls the Kings kept their noses in front early in the third as the scoring pace slowed.
Saville single-handedly revived the Hawks with an individual spurt of nine points to snatch back the lead, 61-55, at the last break.
The Hawks opened up a 12-point buffer on Forman's third triple and his team looked poised for victory, but led by Lazare the Kings refused to keel over, out-scoring Wollongong 18-9 to end the game.
Wollongong Hawks 79 (Saville 21, Forman 13, Deleon 12)
Sydney Kings 76 (Lazare 21, Corin 15, Madgen 11)
Crowd: 4323 at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong