National Basketball League

Kai Sotto, Adelaide stun Sydney to stay alive in playoff hunt

Martin Mendoza

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Kai Sotto, Adelaide stun Sydney to stay alive in playoff hunt

GRITTY. Kai Sotto helps boost the Adelaide 36ers' playoff bid.


With their backs against the wall, Kai Sotto and the Adelaide 36ers pull off a gutsy win over the league-leading Sydney Kings to remain in the tight playoff race in the NBL

MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto and the Adelaide 36ers remained in the tight playoff race in the National Basketball League in Australia after pulling off a gutsy 115-108 win over the top-seeded Sydney Kings on Friday, February 3. 

With their backs against the wall, the 36ers rode on a well-balanced attack as six players scored in double figures.

Coming off a 27-point outing in Adelaide’s previous victory over the Cairns Taipans, Antonius Cleveland picked up where he left off and dropped 23 points, together with an all-around stat line of 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and a block.

Robert Franks backstopped Cleveland anew with 19 points, while former Golden State Warrior Ian Clark had 18 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting.

Anthony Drmic contributed 13 points, while Mitch Mccarron and Daniel Johnson chipped in 12 apiece as Sotto only came up with 4 points on 2-of-6 clip from the field. 

The 7-foot-3 Filipino center, though, tallied a team-high 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocks in 15 minutes of playing time.

Adelaide came out firing from the tip-off as it connected on 6 of its 9 three-point attempts in the opening period for a 35-29 edge over Sydney.

The defending champion Kings, however, knotted the score at 59-apiece at halftime, before building a 5-point advantage, 86-81, prior to the start of the final frame.

It was a nip-and-tuck showdown between both teams all throughout the fourth quarter, and with Sydney only ahead by a point, 108-107, with exactly two minutes remaining, Adelaide turned on the jets and finished the game with a fiery 8-0 blast, capped by a dagger trey by Franks with just 16 seconds to go. 

Tim Soares led Sydney with a game-high 24 points, while Dejan Vasiljevic added 18.

Despite improving its record to 13-14, Adelaide’s playoff chances remain bleak as it still needs to win its final game on Sunday, February 5 against the Melbourne United (14-13) at 11 am, Manila time.

The 36ers will also hope for the Perth Wildcats (14-12) to drop their two remaining matches to forge a three-way tie at the sixth and final playoff spot.

The Scores

Adelaide 115 – Cleveland 23, Franks 19, Clark 18, Drmic 13, Mccarron 12, Johnson 12, Galloway 9, Sotto 4, Dech 3, Harris 2.

Sydney 108 – Soares 24, Vasiljevic 18, Simon 15, Noi 13, Galloway 11, Walton Jr. 8, Glover 7, Hunter 5, Bruce 5, Makoi 2, Gattorna 0.

Quarters: 35-29, 59-59, 81-86, 115-108.


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