National Basketball League

Kai Sotto 16-point eruption wasted as Adelaide blows 16-point 4th-quarter lead

JR Isaga
Kai Sotto 16-point eruption wasted as Adelaide blows 16-point 4th-quarter lead

BOUNCE BACK. Kai Sotto looks to hike up his numbers agains this March.

ADELAIDE 36ERS

Kai Sotto's second-highest scoring game in the pro ranks goes for naught as Adelaide collapses in the fourth quarter against South East Melbourne

MANILA, Philippines – The Adelaide 36ers suffered a late-game collapse in their penultimate game of the Australia National Basketball League (NBL) season as South East Melbourne Phoenix eked out a 94-91 home court escape on Friday, April 22.

Filipino budding star Kai Sotto went to work in just 15 minutes off the bench, and finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting, 1-of-2 from three, and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

However, the 7-foot-3 prospect’s second-highest scoring outing at the pro level went for naught as the Sixers saw their 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter, 80-64, evaporate to an 89-all tie with 2:01 remaining off a massive 25-9 Melbourne fightback.

Phoenix guard Izayah Le’afa then punctuated the morale-crushing comeback at 28-9 with a go-ahead, step-back triple at the 1:26 mark of regulation for the 92-89 lead.

Adelaide forward Sunday Dech managed to get within 91-92 off a mid-range shot with 19 ticks left, but the breaks of the game fell Melbourne’s way as Le’afa calmly sank two free throws off the duty foul for the 94-91 lead.

Daniel Johnson and Todd Withers each had a crack at a game-tying three in the final 15 seconds, but both shots clanked off as Melbourne held on to the well-earned win.

Reserve guard Cameron Gliddon did most of the late-game lifting for the Phoenix squad, and finished with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists on 9-of-14 shooting off the bench, while former NBA players Xavier Munford and Brandon Ashley each scored 14.

Dech scored 20 points in the embarrassing defeat, while Johnson and sparkplug guard Dusty Hannahs scored 18 apiece. The loss marked the end of the eighth-ranked Sixers’ two-game winning streak as they fell to a 9-18 record, while sixth-place Melbourne ramped up to 14-13.

Incidentally, Sotto’s pro career-high outing of 21 points also resulted in a loss last April 11, when Adelaide bowed to the Brisbane Bullets in another close affair, 93-85.

Adelaide can end its season on a high note with a win against the ninth-ranked New Zealand Breakers on Sunday, April 24, 11 am, Manila time.

The Scores

SE Melbourne 94 – Gliddon 24, Munford 14, Ashley 14, Qi 12, Creek 11, Le’afa 8, Adnam 8, Te Rangi 3.

Adelaide 91 – Dech 20, Johnson 18, Hannahs 18, Sotto 16, McCarron 5, Withers 4, Harris 4, Dufelmeier 3, King 3, Malou 0.

Quarters: 19-22, 41-49, 60-74, 94-91.

– Rappler.com

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