Sixers flip script on tired Phoenix

Petrol tickets.

They’re the most valuable commodity in hoops.

South East Melbourne Phoenix spent them all keeping pace in their heartbreaking one-point loss to Melbourne United in Throwdown 3 on Saturday.

And, save for a huge third quarter burst, they just didn’t have the legs to run with an Adelaide side that enjoyed an extra day’s break.

The Sixers set the tone with a stunning 15-point opening quarter onslaught from pint-sized scoring machine Jerome Randle and never looked back, smashing a lacklustre Phoenix on the glass 42-35 on the way to a 103-91 win.

Energy-sapped bigs were slow to provide screens for their little men and the defence was shredded time and time again.

Even the usually invincible Mitch Creek struggled to get things going, managing just five points in the first half, before coming out ultra-aggressive and dropping 17 after the long break.

TURNOVERS KILL

Phoenix will rue the boneheaded turnovers from Roberson and then Creek — the two men who had done so much to get their side back into it — before an unsportsmanlike foul on Ben Madgen sucked away any momentum they had left.

It allowed Adelaide to go on a 7-0 run and those spent petrol tickets reared their ugly head again, the Phoenix struggling to keep pace on both ends of the floor.

There’s no panic button in sight, but it is the first time in its young life this Phoenix team has lost back-to-back games and they’re now 5-4.

Daniel Dillon of the 36ers shoots.Source:AAP

SIXERS FLIP SCRIPT

Adelaide coach Joey Wright usually says the starting five is one of the most overrated things in basketball.

It’s who’s on the court when the game is on the line at the finish that matters most in his playbook.

But in Melbourne the master coach changed his starters for the first time all season and it sparked his team into snapping a four-game losing streak against the Phoenix which may well have saved their season.

MIXING IT UP

Wright’s starting five was more about sending a message and it worked. Eric Griffin — whose unsportsmanlike foul against Perth on Friday night infuriated Wright — made way for Obi Kyei who has been punching above his weight on the boards all season, while co-captain Brendan Teys came in for Ramone Moore, who did not play all night.

Wright got the response he was after. Kyei got his hands dirty in the paint and Teys made two early buckets as the Sixers shot to a 13-4 lead.

The other major change to the rotation was Daniel Dillon, who played 22 minutes for 14 points and made all six free throws in a game-changing performance.

Jerome Randle keeps South East Melbourne Phoenix guessing.Source:Getty Images

JEROME v JOHN

Two of the league’s best shooters Jerome Randle and John Roberson went head-to-head on the scoreboard but Kyle Adnam had the job of stopping Adelaide’s danger man.

Randle started the game on fire with 15 points in the first seven minutes including a perfect 3/3 from long range.

Roberson got going in the second and went to halftime with 10 points to Randle’s 19 and he started knocking down threes in the third to close the gap.

But Randle delivered when it mattered in the last and his fifth three-pointer with four minutes remaining was from the logo on the wing for a game-high 27 points before limping from the court post-game after a collision with Mitch Creek.

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DRMIC STARS

Anthony Drmic is doing it all this season. Three-point shooting, rebounding and on Monday night he made no-look passes and textbook assists to find teammates.

Drmic made Adelaide’s first two baskets of the second quarter with classy spin moves then found Eric Griffin in the paint on the fast break, and flew over two opponents to drag in a defensive rebound.

His 12 points on 6/7 shooting gave Adelaide a 12-point halftime lead and he made a steal which led to Daniel Johnson’s first bucket early in the third quarter.

When the Phoenix closed to within three in the last term he nailed a big three and hit both free throws from an unsportsmanlike foul to finish with 21 points and eight rebounds.

His last major contribution was to jump in front of Dane Pineau’s missed free throw to grab a defensive board and regain possession.

Carlton recruit Eddie Betts was courtside to watch the Sixers.Source:AAP

EDDIE STILL LOVES ADELAIDE

Eddie Betts might be a Blue again, but he hasn’t switched allegiances when it comes to hoops, wearing a Sixers jersey courtside.

The mercurial forward leaves tonight smiling as Phoenix head back to the drawing board to find a way to knock off top-of-the-table Sydney Kings.

Phoenix 91

Creek 22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists

Roberson 21 points, 6 assists

36ers 103

Randle 27 points, 4 assists

Drmic 21 points, 8 rebounds

Crowd: 2893

Originally published asSixers flip script on tired Phoenix

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