Talking Points: Phoenix Suns vs. Adelaide 36ers
THE annual tradition of the National Basketball League (NBL) and National Basketball League (NBA) clash continued on Monday afternoon, except the script was flipped for the first time in history.
The Adelaide 36ers became the first NBL team to claim a win in the NBL x NBA series after defeating the Phoenix Suns 134-124 in the latter’s home arena. It was a win that stunned the basketball world, given the Suns’ success in the strongest competition over recent years.
There is a lot to take out of the game from an Adelaide perspective, as the 36ers’ preparations for the upcoming NBL season reach an all-time high. We run through a bunch of the game’s key talking points.
Adelaide’s awesome shooting the catalyst for triumph
It was a historic shooting performance from the 36ers, who nailed three after three to jump out to an early lead against a seasoned Phoenix side. It was the first time Adelaide has made more than 21 threes, which takes into account over 1200 outings. They shot the lights out in the second term, with the likes of Craig Randall II, Robert Franks and Antonius Cleveland taking full advantage of some slack Suns’ defence on the perimeter. They finished the game shooting 24/43 (55.8 percent) from behind the arc, putting the game away from range.
Randall’s ridiculous game
There has been a lot of talk about Adelaide’s offseason recruits, and that was justified on Monday, with a number standing out. While Franks and Cleveland (we’ll get to them in a second) dominated the headlines, it was Randall who stole the show on the biggest of stages. He nailed nine of his 17 attempts from behind the arc, and tormented the Suns’ defence with his innate ability to produce a basket from almost any situation. He showed no hesitation to pull the trigger from deep, whether it was off the dribble, on the catch and shoot or with a hand in his face. He was also able to conjure buckets from inside the arc, highlighted by a ridiculously contested floater at the elbow. He may just see some big clubs from around the globe come knocking after that display.
Franks and Cleveland work brilliantly in tandem
Given the high-profile nature of their recruiting in the offseason, there were a few doubts surrounding whether the acquisitions of Franks and Cleveland would pay off, but if Monday night is anything to go off, it should be a huge tick. Franks was a machine on the offensive end, draining a number of deep threes, including one from the NBA logo, which is a seriously impressive feat given NBL courts are smaller. He showed the ability to create his own shot inside the paint with some impressive drives to the rack, while also proving composed when shooting from downtown on his way to 32 points and six threes. Cleveland was also impressive, finishing with 22 points (3/4 3PT) and playing some lockdown defence on some of the world’s best guards.
Landale impresses for Phoenix
A NBL Grand Final MVP with Melbourne United, Jock Landale faced off against NBL opponents once again. However, he was in a Phoenix Suns uniform this time, playing with the best the world has to offer. Despite being amongst some big names, Landale still caught the eye with his smart body positioning and strong hustle. He often found himself mismatched under the post, although his teammates would not always reward his hard work. He finished with 12 points and six rebounds in an encouraging display.
It was the best performance we have seen from the 36ers in recent memory, and if they can carry their shooting form into the NBL season, they will be right amongst the title contenders.