MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto rode the bench anew as the Adelaide 36ers pulled off an 87-74 stunner over erstwhile top-ranked Perth Wildcats in the Australia National Basketball League at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Tuesday, January 18.
Playing for the first time in exactly a month, the 36ers banked on a fiery first-half performance from big man Daniel Johnson to build a sizable lead before withstanding a gritty comeback from the Wildcats en route to their third win of the season.
Johnson unloaded 16 of his 21 points – 6 coming from beyond the arc – in the first two quarters as Adelaide enjoyed a 21-point lead at halftime, 55-34.
But Perth did not crumble and trimmed its deficit to as low as 8 points, 73-81, off two Michael Frazier foul shots with less than four minutes remaining.
The 36ers, though, immediately restored order courtesy of Cameron Bairstow, who drained back-to-back buckets in the ensuing possessions as they avenged their season-opening 73-85 loss to the Wildcats in December.
Bairstow took over late with 10 fourth-quarter points and finished with 19 overall on top of 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
Mitch McCarron also starred in the win with a near-triple-double of 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists, while Sunday Dech added another 10 points.
Sotto, acquired by Adelaide last year, has played just one game this season.
The 36ers drew level with the Brisbane Bullets at 3-3, while the Wildcats (5-2) dropped to second place, with Melbourne United (6-2) taking over the top spot in the standings.
Victor Law paced Perth with 16 points and 14 rebounds. – Rappler.com