MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto and the Adelaide 36ers’ late fourth-quarter run was not enough as they fell to the South East Melbourne Phoenix, 83-76, in the Australia National Basketball League (NBL) on Friday, March 4.
Sotto, who only tallied 2 points in their past outing, came up with a much better showing for the 36ers this time around, grabbing a team-high 9 rebounds, to go along with 4 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks in 19 minutes.
With its third straight loss, Adelaide now dropped to 5-10 in the standings, while South East Melbourne moved up to 11-5.
The 36ers, who are playing without their head coach CJ Bruton due to COVID-19 protocols, managed to keep in step with the second-seeded Phoenix early in the game, trailing by only 1 point, 25-26, at the end of the first quarter.
The Phoenix, however, proved why they are the No. 2 team in the league as they stretched their lead to as many as 13 points, 60-47, three minutes into the second half.
With the Phoenix still leading by 11 markers, 65-54, at the start of the final frame, the 36ers then unleashed a furious 18-6 run to overtake their opponents, 72-71, off a floater by Dusthy Hannahs with 3:02 left in the quarter.
It was a see-saw battle between the two teams in the next few possessions and with the score knotted at 76-all, South East Melbourne’s Kyle Adnam sank a cold-blooded triple to give the Phoenix a three-point cushion, 79-76, with just 57 seconds remaining on the clock.
Adelaide’s Sunday Dech and Hannahs had chances to tie the game or cut the deficit in the next play, but missed on their crucial opportunities as Brandon Ashley sealed the victory for the Phoenix on the other end with a layup.
Mitchell Creek led the way for South East Melbourne with 29 points, while Ryan Broekhoff and Izayah Le’afa added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
On the other side, only Daniel Johnson finished in double figures for Adelaide, dropping a game-high 31 points on a very efficient 10-of-13 shooting, together with 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Sotto and the 36ers will get another chance to finally get back on the win column when they face the Perth Wildcats on Sunday, March 6, at 10 am, Manila time.
South East Melbourne 83 – Creek 29, Broekhoff 12, Le’afa 11, Ashley 9, Munford 8, Qi 7, Adnam 3, Gliddon 2, Pineau 2, Te Rangi 0, Smith-Milner 0.
Adelaide 76 – Johnson 31, Mccaron 9, Hannahs 9, Dech 7, Bairstow 6, Withers 5, Sotto 4, King 3, Harris 2, Dufelmeier 0.
Quarters: 26-25, 50-42, 65-54, 83-76.