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Sotto impresses as 36ers shock Suns in NBL-NBA exhibition

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Sotto impresses as 36ers shock Suns in NBL-NBA exhibition
Kai Sotto
Adelaide 36ers / Instagram

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pride Kai Sotto made a solid impression as the hot-shooting Adelaide 36ers pulled off a 134-124 preseason stunner over the Phoenix Suns in the NBL X NBA Tour at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Months after going undrafted in the NBA Rookie Draft, the 7-foot-3 Sotto turned heads in his return to the NBA floor with 11 points, two rebounds, two steals and an assist in Adelaide's historic exhibition win spiked by 24 triples over one of the world's top squads. 

Adelaide, which shot 24-of-43 from downtown compared to the Suns' cold 9-of-34 clip, thus became the first non-NBA team to win against a top dog NBA club in any preseason game since Turkey's Fenerbachce bested the Brooklyn Nets, 101-96, in 2015.

And Sotto, the Gilas Pilipinas center, made sure to be a big part of that feat as his stellar play included a pair of dunks en route to finishing with a +18 efficiency in only 18 minutes of action.

Craig Randall led the way for the 36ers, draining 35 points on nine triples while Robert Franks fired six more treys for his 32 markers.

Antonius Cleveland (22) and Daniel Johnson (15) chipped in key contributions in the balanced attack of the 36ers, who will seek redemption in the Australia's NBL buoyed by this NBA camp after a playoff miss last season that marked Sotto's international pro league debut.

Ranged against a powerhouse Phoenix squad that topped the last NBA regular season with a whopping 64-18 record, the 36ers did not shy away from the challenge in erupting for 71 points at the half to take a 12-point lead.

Led by the troika of NBA All-Stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker with Deandre Ayton at the post though, the Suns at home rediscovered their fiery form and launched a searing rally to strike within 81-82 midway through the third. 

But Sotto came up big anew, slamming one home to spark a 9-2 spurt for Adelaide that restored order at 91-83 and went on to keep Phoenix at bay the rest of the match for the big win on the road

Cameron Payne came off the bench with 23 points as DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges had 22 each in the loss to lead the Suns.

Booker had 13 while Paul settled for six as all the starters of Phoenix, including Bridges and Cam Johnson, played 22 minutes apiece. 

Up next for Adelaide is the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring its former star player and 2021 sixth draft pick Josh Giddey, this Thursday at the Paycom Center.

Adelaide's US tour is part of its final build up for the NBL regular season that already fired off over the weekend though its first game against Tasmania is still on Oct. 13.

The 36ers finished at seventh place with a 10-18 card last season with Sotto posting averages of 7.52 points and 4.48 rebounds.

ADELAIDE 36ERS

KAI SOTTO

NBA

NBL

PHOENIX

SUNS

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