MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto tied his season-best 16 points, but it was not enough to help the Adelaide 36ers pick up a victory as they bowed to the New Zealand Breakers in a close one, 85-83, in the National Basketball League in Australia on Sunday, January 8.
Now a consistent starter for Adelaide at the center spot, Sotto showed what he could provide when given enough playing time as he shot a very efficient 8-of-12 clip from the field, while also grabbing 5 rebounds and swatting away 2 shots in 22 minutes and 28 seconds of action.
The 7-foot-3 Filipino big man Sotto unloaded 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including two monstrous jams in the final period that helped the 36ers keep in step with the second-seeded Breakers.
Trailing by its largest at 9 points, 76-85, after Sotto was subbed out with 3:25 to play, Adelaide went on a feisty 7-0 run to pull within just 2, 83-85, with a minute and 14 seconds remaining.
The 36ers then had the chance to steal the lead and potentially the win down the stretch, but Ian Clark’s three-pointer with only 9 seconds left failed to hit the mark.
Barry Brown Jr. powered New Zealand with 16 points, while Jarrell Brantley and Izayah Le’afa added 15 and 13, respectively.
On the other side, Robert Franks delivered a double-double of 20 points and 13 boards for Adelaide, while Antonius Cleveland contributed 18 markers in the losing cause.
Adelaide, which slid to 11-10, will shoot for a bounce-back victory when it takes on the Tasmania Jack Jumpers on Thursday, January 12 at 4:30 PM, Manila time.
New Zealand 85 – Brown Jr. 16, Brantley 15, Le’afa 13, Pardon 10, Mcdowell-White 10, Rupert 8, Abercombie 4, Gliddon 3, Vodanovich 3, Loe 3.
Adelaide 83 – Franks 20, Cleveland 18, Sotto 16, Clark 16, Drmic 4, Dech 4, Johnson 3, Mccarron 2, Galloway 0, Harris 0.
Quarters: 19-15, 45-38, 68-63, 85-83.