Kai Sotto’s professional basketball career got off to a great start as Adelaide outlasted Cairns in overtime, 91-87, Sunday afternoon in the NBL Blitz at the MyState Bank Arena in Tasmania.
The 36ers led by as much as 14 points in the 1st half, but it took an additional 5 minutes to capture their first victory in the league’s official preseason competition.
NBL Blitz grants teams 3 points for every game won and a point for each quarter won. The 36ers gained 4.5 points in their triumph over the Taipans.
Sotto registered his 1st career points in the NBL with an and-1 dunk over Majok Deng at the 7:01 mark in the 2nd frame. The 19-year-old Filipino nailed the bonus free throw for a 29-20 advantage for the 36ers.
Daniel Johnson converted a basket from beyond the arc halfway through the quarter to extend their lead to 14, 34-20.
Taipans stole the 3rd period away from the CJ Bruton-mentored squad, 20-15, to make it a close contest. Cameron Bairstow converted 1 out of his 2 shots from the charity strike to give the 36ers a 79-77 lead with 9 seconds left on the game clock, yet Stephen Zimmerman made a tip-in, with a basket interference from the 36ers to equalize the game.
The 4-time NBL champs were given an opportunity to win the game, unfortunately, Sotto’s inbound pass was stolen.
Johnson and Emmanuel Malou put together 8 consecutive points to give the 36ers an 87-79 lead with 3 minutes remaining.
The former Ateneo Blue Eaglet finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and a block in 17 minutes of action. He scored 4 of his total output in the 2nd half.
The 2012 NBL Most Improved Player paced the 36ers with 33 markers and 8 boards while Tad Dufelmeier posted 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Zimmerman racked up 18 points for the Taipans.