THE Adelaide 36ers have added to the hype surrounding their upcoming campaign with an 84-76 triumph to kick off the National Basketball League (NBL) Blitz preseason competition against the SEM Phoenix on Friday night.
With the addition of some big names in the offseason, the 36ers are looming as one of the contenders for the title in 2022/23, and their performance against the Phoenix did those claims no harm. While it was preseason, Adelaide will still be encouraged by the first proper outing the squad has seen.
Despite playing big names such as Robert Franks on limited minutes, it certainly looked as if he and fellow recruits Antonius Cleveland and Craig Randall would gel perfectly together in the small time they were on the court together.
Randall was the star of the show with a 19-point outing, showing no hesitation to let it fly from behind the arc with 10 attempts from downtown. He looks to be another offensive weapon for the 36ers, finishing at the rim with ferocity, while also nailing some massive threes. He is set to combine well with playmaker Mitch McCarron, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win.
Cleveland looked to slot in seemlessly as well, with the reigning NBL Best Defensive Player making quite the impact against the Phoenix. His perimeter defence looks as sharp as ever, while also hitting the offensive end with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. He and Franks were the club’s two major coups in the offseason, and its a move that looks likely to pay off.
Development player Nick Marshall continued to improve his game in the offseason, and it culminated in 11 points and six rebounds, while seven-time Adelaide-MVP Daniel Johnson had seven points and three rebounds.
While the Phoenix were missing the likes of Mitch Creek and Ryan Broekhoff, they still showed some promising signs ahead of their bounce-back campaign. Kyle Adnam was his reliable self with a game-high 19 points (5/13 3PT), and he helped spark the Phoenix when the game was on the brink of becoming a blowout.
Import Alan Williams also caught the eye for South East Melbourne, but foul trouble held him to just 14 and a half minutes. Despite the limited playing time, he still finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, shaping as a valuable addition for the upcoming season.
The Blitz continues tonight with a pair of games, as the Tasmania JackJumpers take on the Sydney Kings in a grand final rematch, while the Perth Wildcats face off against the Cairns Taipans shortly after.