Under-siege import Dusty Hannahs has silenced the critics to seal the Adelaide 36ers’ hard-fought 83-80 victory over the Tasmania JackJumpers at MyState Bank Arena in Hobart.
Hannahs, who felt he “let my teammates, staff and everybody down by not performing those first (two) games”, came up big with the game on the line on Thursday night.
The JackJumpers sliced a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to a single point late only for a rejuvenated Hannahs to bury a huge three to beat the shot-clock and then follow-up with a neat floater with 53 seconds on the clock to put Adelaide ahead by three.
The hosts had the chance to level the scores but import playmaker Josh Magette was unable to bury successive desperate long bombs.
“Dusty is a guy who wants the ball,” Adelaide coach C.J. Bruton said, after notching his first win at the helm and snapping the club’s eight-game losing skid which extended to last season.
“He’s told me plenty of times he’s a guy that can get it done.
“We all know he can shoot the ball.
“Tonight he made a few big shots that dug us out of a hole and kept us in front.”
The JackJumpers’ perimeter shooting was flaky all evening, with the exception of captain Clint Steindl, who notched 22 points in as many minutes off the bench.
Steindl single-handedly kept his side in the hunt early as Hannahs and Mojave King steered Adelaide to a 25-22 quarter-time lead.
Sixers import Todd Withers hobbled off the court with cramp in his left leg in the first term before returning in the second stanza and playing stifling defence on theJackJumpers Josh Adams, as Adelaide moved ahead 42-34 at halftime and 66-56 at three-quarter-time.
From the moment Withers fouled out in the fourth quarter, Adams, who had been well held after starring in Tasmania’s fairytale opening-round overtime triumph, took control.
Adams rifled 11 points in three minutes to have the NBL newcomers dreaming of extending their honeymoon, before Hannahs slammed the door shut.
“We started off slow and with not a lot of energy,” JackJumpers coach Scott Roth said.
“Eventually we got some things going in the second half.
“We have to have intensity and energy all the time.
“It’s a good learning lesson for us.”