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.
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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