The Adelaide 36ers have bounced back from a poor NBL season opener to notch a thrilling 116-108 double-overtime victory over South East Melbourne Phoenix.
The lead changed hands 29 times, with the teams unable to be separated at the end of regulation (89-89) and first overtime (99-89) before Josh Giddey’s all-round brilliance off the bench (16 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) proved decisive for the hosts.
Adelaide captain Daniel Johnson (33 points at 79 per cent) fouled out late in the fourth term, having waged an engrossing duel with Phoenix skipper and former 36ers teammate Mitch Creek (30 points), who fouled out with 10 seconds left in the second overtime.
Yannick Wetzell (24 points, 10 rebounds) and import Keifer Sykes (18 points, 11 assists) dazzled for the visitors, who looked gone when the Sixers led 89-83 inside the last 90 seconds of regulation, before a combination of Creek’s clutch coolness and two costly Adelaide turnovers allowed the Phoenix to draw level.
In the last second, Wetzell blocked Giddey and Creek rejected Tony Crocker, forcing overtime.
The extension started with a steal and monster slam from Giddey but again the two sides couldn’t be split when Phoenix sharpshooter Cam Gliddon’s prayer on the bell was off target.
Giddey, who had only three points at three-quarter-time, was the difference in the engrossing late stages after Johnson paced Adelaide for most of the afternoon.
He had started with a dunk in the first 13 seconds and Crocker celebrated his 34th birthday with a slam of his own as the Sixers held sway 19-18 at quarter-time.
Adelaide shot 69 per cent in the first half and led 45-36 before the Phoenix silenced the crowd and pegged it back to 47-43 at halftime when Wetzell picked off Giddey’s errant pass with 2.8 seconds left and banked a buzzer-beater from beyond halfcourt.
Phoenix carried that momentum into the third term, at the end of which they led 74-70, before the 36ers stroked eight unanswered points to start the fourth term by stealing the lead.