ADELAIDE, team of Filipino sensation Kai Sotto, shored up its season build-up for the National Basketball League (NBL) opener next week by completing a perfect preseason championship run to win the NBL Blitz Loggins-Bruton Cup in Darwin, Australia.
The 36ers swept their campaign as early as Friday highlighted by an 84-77 win over the Illawarra Hawks but needed a lift from Melbourne United in the last match over the weekend to secure the solo top spot.
Adelaide, with Mr. Sotto finally made his mark when it mattered most, finishing with a 3-0 card as Melbourne (2-1) denied the Brisbane Bullets (2-1) a chance for the same record with an 80-67 win.
The 7-foot-3 Mr. Sotto, after limited playing time in their win over South East Melbourne, posted six points, a rebound and a steal in 10 minutes including back-to-back baskets in crunch time to put Adelaide ahead.
Mr. Sotto’s reemergence approaching his second season in the Land Down Under heaped praises from coach CJ Bruton, whose father Cal shared the NBL preseason tribute name with Leroy Loggins.
“I thought Kai (Sotto) was really amazing, how he bounced back. He got on the rim and finished and became a target for us,” Bruton said in the Adelaide website.
“His level of activity helped shift the needle for us to know we can play with length and size.”
Up next for Mr. Sotto and the 36ers have a quick training camp in the United States with a pair of tune-up games against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 2 and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 6.
The NBL will open on Oct. 1 but the 36ers will not see action until Oct. 13 against the JackJumpers at home.
Adelaide is seeking redemption this season after missing the playoffs in Mr. Sotto’s NBL debut year at seventh place with a 10-18 card. — John Bryan Ulanday