THE Adelaide 36ers could not produce consecutive wins against NBA sides in the U.S. on Friday afternoon, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in convincing fashion, as the latter claimed a 131-98 victory.
The 36ers could not produce another blistering shooting performance as they did against the Phoenix Suns a few days earlier, as they stunned the world with a massive upset against one of the NBA’s strongest teams.
The Thunder were clinical for all four quarters, and were led by former 36er Josh Giddey, who has converted his NBL career into NBA success, and is one of Australia’s biggest basketball triumphs over the last few decades.
The result marked the conclusion of Adelaide’s overseas trip, as the side returns to the land down under ahead of their first NBL outing of the 2022/23 season against the JackJumpers on Thursday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder (131) def. Adelaide 36ers (98)
The Thunder were in similar form to that of the 36ers when they played the Suns, producing an extremely accurate shooting performance. Oklahoma City shot 52.5 per cent from the field and 20 of their 40 attempts from behind the arc found the bottom of the net.
The home side came out firing in the opening term, not afraid to attack the 36ers on the defensive end and delivering their own ruthless performance guarding the perimeter, which would have been a point of emphasis ahead of the game.
With a 19-point lead at the first change, the Thunder rested their starters for most of the final three quarters. Adelaide finished strong, winning the fourth quarter as the Thunder gave some minutes to the back end of their bench and the 36ers finally found some shooting form. However, it was too little too late, eventually falling by 33 points.
Despite the loss, there were still some positives for Adelaide, including the performance of its big guns once again. Craig Randall had another eye-catching performance with 27 points (5/11 3PT) and eight assists, as his reputation on the big stage continued to increase. Offseason recruits Robert Franks (20 points, seven rebounds) and Antonius Cleveland (19 points, three points, two steals) were once again prominant, while Sunday Dech fought hard on his way to nine points, four rebounds and two assists.
Former NBL Rookie of the Year and Adelaide 36er Giddey was at the forefront for the Thunder in the win, delivering 10 points, five rebounds, six dimes and a pair of blocks.
An outspoken advocate of the NBL, Giddey expressed his excitement for the competition moving forward post-game.
“I was really excited,” Giddey said.
“I always used to watch these games. I wish I could have come over when I was in the NBL. I was praying this year I’d be able to play against an NBL team and for it to be my team was that little extra bit special.
“I was super excited. It’s great for Australia’s basketball to be put on a world stage. For them to beat Phoenix and create history for Australian basketball, I’m super happy for them.
“I’m a big NBL advocate and this is only going to get bigger in Australia.”