Sydney Kings forward Kouat Noi has made his 25th birthday a night to remember by drilling a game-winning three-pointer on the buzzer to cap a thrilling 106-103 victory over Cairns Taipans.
Noi's late heroics brought the Qudos Bank Arena crowd to their feet in Sydney on Saturday night as the Kings overcame an 11-point deficit with reserve guard Shaun Bruce fuelling the second-half comeback with an inspirational 17-point burst.
The Kings were poised to drop their third consecutive home game with Cairns holding a 100-95 lead with two minutes to play, but Bruce hit back-to-back triples then retrieved his own missed free throw, leading to a Xavier Cooks dunk for a 103-100 advantage.
Cairns forward DJ Hogg added another twist as he slotted his seventh three-pointer of the game to level the scores with 10 seconds on the clock then blocked Noi's drive to the basket as the game looked destined to head to overtime.
But Bruce's inbound pass found Noi in space and the former Taipan dealt the knockout blow to his former club as Sydney recorded their sixth win of the season.
"I'm still speechless," Noi said afterwards.
"Doing it against my own team just makes it even better. So I'm just speechless at the moment."
Looking for their second win on the Kings' home court this season, Cairns showed off their offensive firepower in the first half by hitting 10 of 20 three-point attempts to run up 62 points on the defending champs and lead by seven at the main break.
Forward Sam Waardenburg made five of seven shots in the half, including two triples, on his way to 17 points while Hogg and Keanu Pinder also reached double figures.
The reigning champions withstood the Taipans' early onslaught after halftime and produced a 19-6 run to close the third quarter, coach Chase Buford handing credit to Bruce for leading the charge.
"He came in and flipped it for us right away. Just got on the ball, gave us a little life, a little spark, a little energy," Buford said after Bruce helped the Kings consolidate top spot on the ladder.
"He made some shots, obviously, which helps but just was a real calming influence.
"I think he kind of gave a little cattleprod up everyone else's butt, to get their ass into gear and show a little pride and emotion."
The Taipans battled on in the final quarter despite Pinder fouling out at the midway point.
Hogg's 27-point haul was not enough to prevent back-to-back losses after Cairns coughed up a 13-point lead in last week's home loss to New Zealand.