Kai Sotto ignites Adelaide’s late rally in NBL preseason match
MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto scored all his six points to spark Adelaide’s late fourth-quarter rally as the 36ers beat Illawarra, 84-77, and completed a three-game sweep of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) Blitz preseason on Thursday.
When the 36ers went down, 71-72, with 5:36 to go, the 7-foot-3 center ignited the team’s 13-3 run as he shot 3-of-5 from the field with one rebound, one steal, and four turnovers in 10 minutes of playing time.
Robert Franks led Adelaide with 30 points, including the two free throws that sealed their win, and grabbed 10 rebounds to fill in the absence of Antonius Cleveland.
Sotto only averaged 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11 minutes of play in the NBL Blitz. But Adelaide coach CJ Bruton was still impressed of the 20-year-old Filipino after showing his potential despite the limited action.
“I thought Kai was really amazing, how he bounced back. He got on the rim and finished and became a target for us,” said Bruton after the match. “His level of activity helped shift the needle for us to know we can play with length and size.”
Buckets to blocks – the new Sotto movie title?
— Adelaide 36ers (@Adelaide36ers) September 22, 2022
Sotto only scored two points, collected five boards, and a block in 14 minutes of play in their first pre-season win over the South East Melbourne, 84-76, last week. He was scoreless in Adelaide’s 87-79 victory over the Tasmania JackJumpers last Monday.
Bruton was pleased with the 36ers pre-season performance as they seek to improve their previous 10-18 finish in seventh place last season.
“We got punched in the mouth in all three games, but to show that response was positive. We had to show something, but the guys did pick up the defensive intensity,” he said.
The 2022-2023 NBL tips off on October 1. But Adelaide will open its campaign on Oct. 13 against Tasmania at home.
The club will play the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Centre on Oct. 2, before facing Oklahoma City Thunder at the Paycom Centre on Oct. 6.