National Basketball League

Back from Gilas stint, Kai Sotto helps Adelaide in win vs Melbourne

Delfin Dioquino
Back from Gilas stint, Kai Sotto helps Adelaide in win vs Melbourne

NBL RETURN. Kai Sotto reunites with the Adelaide 36ers following his Gilas Pilipinas stint.

Adelaide 36ers Instagram page

Kai Sotto logs his longest playing time of the NBL season as the Adelaide 36ers rediscover their winning ways by fending off the Melbourne United

MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto and the Adelaide 36ers weathered a fourth-quarter comeback from the Melbourne United to escape with a 91-86 win as the National Basketball League resumed on Thursday, November 17.

Returning to Australia following his Gilas Pilipinas stint, the 7-foot-3 big man delivered 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in nearly 17 minutes of action – his longest playing time this season.

But Sotto sat out the entire fourth quarter as the 36ers squandered a double-digit lead before they took care of business late courtesy of Robert Franks and Anthony Drmic.

Franks finished with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Drmic also netted 21 points on top of 5 rebounds and 2 steals in the hard-earned victory, with their clutch free throws keeping the United at bay.

Melbourne trailed 64-74 at the end of the third period before it sliced its deficit to a whisker off a 9-0 start in the fourth quarter powered by 5 points from Rayjon Tucker.

Tucker then waxed hot late, scoring their last 8 points of the game to keep the United within striking distance with a minute left, 86-88, but Franks canned his two charities and Drmic split his foul shots for the final tally.

Antonius Cleveland totaled 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Mitch McCarron posted 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals as Adelaide returned to the winning column.

Losing to the Perth Wildcats before the NBL took a break to give way for the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the 36ers bounced back to improve to an even 4-4.

Tucker tallied a game-high 23 points to go with 5 rebounds for Melbourne, which dropped to 5-6.

Former Adelaide big man Isaac Humphries, who became the first player to come out as gay in the NBL, finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks in the losing effort.

Sotto and the 36ers will play their second straight road game as they face the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday, November 20. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.