MANILA, Philippines – Filipino star teenager Kai Sotto finally had his professional basketball debut in the books for the Adelaide 36ers as the Cairns Taipans cruised to a 93-67 home beatdown on Saturday, December 18.
The 7-foot-3 prospect, who is signed for two years in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL), flashed his potential anew after an eight-game absence and finished with 1 point, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in just under 10 minutes off the bench.
The game was still competitive early on as Sixers big man Daniel Johnson tied it up, 15-all, with 4:20 left in the 1st quarter.
By the time Sotto checked in with 1:36 left, the Taipans were already in the middle of what would eventually be a 16-5 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating Nathan Jawai layup for the 31-20 lead.
Things only got worse for the visiting Adelaide crew at the turn of the second half as Cairns turned a 56-37 3rd quarter lead to an insurmountable 77-41 gap, thanks to Majok Deng’s three-point onslaught that capped a 21-4 blitz with 1:17 left.
The Taipans never let their foot off the gas even in the final frame as they peaked with a 40-point separation, 89-49, with 6:05 left in a smooth cruise to a 2-1 record in the new season.
Deng, who averaged just 5 points in the last two games, erupted for a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 5-of-7 from deep, while former NBA player Stephen Zimmerman added 18 markers and 9 rebounds.
Adelaide guard Dusty Hannahs paced the forgettable loss with 20 points in just 24 minutes, while Johnson and ex-NBA player Isaac Humphries chipped in 12 markers apiece.
The Sixers can get their 2-3 record back to even with a win on Adelaide home turf against the Perth Wildcats on Tuesday, December 28, 4:30 pm Manila time.
Cairns 93 – Deng 23, Zimmerman 18, Pinder 15, McCall 13, Kuol 8, Jawai 6, Noi 5, Kenny 5, Heath 0.
Adelaide 67 – Hannahs 20, Humphries 12, Johnson 12, Withers 8, Dufelheimer 4, Bairstow 4, McCarron 3, Malou 3, Sotto 1, King 0, Marshall 0, Harris 0.
Quarters: 31-20, 54-33, 77-43, 93-67.