National Basketball League

Kai Sotto starts anew as 36ers outlast Phoenix to stretch winning streak

Delfin Dioquino
Kai Sotto starts anew as 36ers outlast Phoenix to stretch winning streak

FESTIVE FEELING. Kai Sotto and the 36ers welcome Christmas riding on a three-game winning streak.

NBL

The Adelaide 36ers pick up their third straight win, with Kai Sotto securing the starting spot in all three games over that stretch

MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto started for the third straight outing and the Adelaide 36ers won as many games in succession after edging the South East Melbourne Phoenix, 94-88, on Saturday, December 24.

Gradually finding his groove in his second season in Australasia’s National Basketball League, Sotto finished with 7 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of action for the 36ers, who hiked their record to 9-8 for a tie for the sixth spot.

The 7-foot-3 Filipino turned in a quiet first quarter as Adelaide trailed 26-32 before he made his presence felt, churning out 5 points and 5 rebounds in the second period to help his side mount a 49-47 lead at halftime.

Daniel Johnson showed the way for the 36ers with 20 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, while Robert Franks also put up 20 points to go with 8 rebounds.

Mitch McCarron tossed in 16 points and 4 rebounds in the win, knocking down a bunch of free throws late that kept the Phoenix at bay.

South East Melbourne sliced a 14-point deficit – its biggest of the game – to just 4 points off a 10-0 blitz powered by Tohi Smith-Milner and Mitch Creek, 85-89, before McCarron came through with his clutch foul shots.

McCarron sank 3 of his 4 free throws over the next two possessions for a 92-85 lead with under 30 seconds remaining.

Antonius Cleveland also shone for Adelaide on both ends with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals.

The 36ers are currently tied with the Tasmania JackJumpers for the sixth and last playoff berth.

Creek fired a game-high 24 points and 5 rebounds in the loss that dropped the third-place Phoenix to 12-8, while Kyle Adnam chalked up 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Smith-Milner added 14 points for South East Melbourne.

Celebrating Christmas on a high, Sotto and Adelaide will return to action on December 29 at they host the Brisbane Bullets. – Rappler.com

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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.