The Adelaide 36ers have made it two major scalps from their last two NBL outings, halting Sydney’s 13-game winning streak with a 90-82 win at Qudos Bank Arena.
After toppling juggernauts Perth out west on Thursday, the 36ers travelled to a packed house in Sydney to send the fans home disappointed in the first look at their side for seven games.
Sydney had won six at home before the seven-game stretch on the road and were looking to push ladder leaders Melbourne United to the final round for top spot ahead of the playoffs.
But the Kings’ Easter Sunday loss means United can seal top spot with a win over Cairns at home on Monday, with Sydney to face the Taipans and Illawarra to end their season in round 21.
“I can probably make up a lot of excuses, but at the end of the day they just wanted it more,” Kings coach Chase Buford said.
“Just 50-50 balls, little plays they were just the first to it at all night and we were second best.”
Dusty Hannahs starred for the 36ers for a second-consecutive game, leading their scoring with 22 points, while Daniel Johnson added 16 on 50 per cent shooting.
But it was the impact of development player Isaac Gattorna that drew praise from coach CJ Bruton, after he added 10 points off the bench and important buckets at vital moments.
” (Isaac’s) Always brought the energy, he’s always played tough,” Bruton said.
“He’s one that I dont think I have to tell to shoot it very often.
“He played well, his energy is always great and he’s been a great teammate.”
With a two-point buffer at the main break, Sydney’s lead went out as high as 10 in the third quarter, before the 36ers battled back into the contest.
The two sides exchanged the lead until the midway point of the fourth, when Sunday Dech rattled in a three off an offensive rebound, before Daniel Johnson and Hannah’s nailed two more.
Down 86-75 with 90 seconds on the clock, Sydney forced the 36ers into turnovers with their full court press. But they were unable to land open looks as the 36ers held on for their ninth win of the campaign.
After his successful scoring night, Hannahs said the goal is to finish their season on a high.
“We’ve had a lot of nail biters that just haven’t gone our way this year … so (the goal is) for us to finish strong with some wins and not go out on a bad note,” he said.
“We’re not like hanging our heads and wanting to get out of here, it’s more about us coming together for a strong finish like coach has been telling us, and we’ve been following through on it.”