By Girald Gaston


Nineteen-year-old Kai Sotto produced his usual numbers once again, but the Adelaide 36ers just couldn’t stop the 4th quarter rampage of home-team Brisbane Bullets, 77-73, in Round 11 of the Australia National Basketball League (NBL), Friday.

Sotto was right on his average with 6 points, 5 boards, and a +4 in 15 minutes, yet the 36ers’ final frame meltdown mixed up with Bullets’ onslaught led by Lamar Patterson cost them the game.

The 7-foot-3 wonderkind started the match productively, asserting his dominance on the offensive glass capped by a putback off Cam Bairstow’s miss to go up by 12, 17-5. 

Despite Brisbane's mini-runs, Sotto stayed patient on the shaded lane as he soared once again for a follow-up slam after a Mitch McCarron airball, 19-13.

Unfortunately, the Sixers couldn’t contain the Bullets’ late surge spearheaded by veteran Lamar Patterson, with the latter inching closer into 21-25 at the first quarter.

Patterson and Bairstow had an early showdown, tallying 13 and 10 points respectively in the said frame.

The anticipated battle between the two towers Sotto and Liu Chuanxing happened at the 6:58 mark of the second period when Sotto showed his soft touch over the outstretched arm of Liu to cash in a jumper, 27-23.

After three buckets, the Filipino pride became quiet and made some errors to end a back-and-forth first half, as the home team regained control early in the third frame thanks to Patterson, 49-45.

Sotto, however, re-entered the floor at the 4:59 mark and acted as a bench spark on the 36ers' stagnant offense to pace the second half. 

The 36ers continued their splendid play with Kai Sotto and Manny Malou on the floor, kickstarting the final quarter with a 6-0 spurt, 67-57, before suffering a meltdown after the Sotto exit.

Brisbane went on a 16-3 scoring blitz capped off by a steal and slam of Patterson, 73-70, and the Adelaide side led by Daniel Johnson and Bairstow started missing point-blank baskets en route to their fifth loss in six games.

The 6-foot-4 stud registered game-high 32 points along with 6 assists and 5 steals, while the Australian Boomers’ mainstay Jason Cadee tallied 9 assists for the Bullets. 

Daniel Johnson led the 36ers with a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards, Bairstow had 12, and Malou added 11 markers in a losing effort.

Sotto and the rest of Adelaide will look to bounce back on February 20, as the squad faces the Cairns Taipans on their home floor, Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Edited by Jostle Doen Pilayre