It was anything but a two-man show, but Isaac Humphries and Josh Giddey showed they are going to help make the Adelaide 36ers tough to beat this season leading the Sixers to an 88-78 over the New Zealand Breakers.
The 36ers were playing their fifth consecutive home game at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night and on the back of a flying start, and with Humphries and Giddey showing the way, the Sixers led from go to woe to win by 10.
It’s the first time the 36ers have claimed back-to-back wins this season after a rollercoaster opening two rounds and the combination of Humphries and Giddey would have excited all Sixers fans.
Their understanding on the pick-and-roll was a treat to watch but the 36ers did leave 13 points at the foul line to leave the door slightly ajar for the Breakers, but they couldn’t quite walk through it.
While Finn Delany (19 points, six rebounds, three blocks), the returning Corey Webster (17 points) and Tai Webster (15 points, seven assists) impressed for the Breakers, the story of the game for the visitors soon became former Brisbane Bullets superstar Lamar Patterson.
The former MVP fancy went scoreless on the night from 0/5 shooting and played less than 15 minutes. Some of that must be credited to the brilliant defence played on him by Adelaide’s Sunday Dech who ended the game with 11 points, three rebounds and two steals.
Humphries again top-scored for the 36ers with 21 points to go with five rebounds and four monster, statement blocks. Giddey was superb setting the pace too and flirted with the triple-double as the league’s youngest player delivered 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Daniel Johnson produced another 17 points, five assists and four rebounds while Tony Crocker was impressive with 14 points and Donald Sloan chimed in with nine to go with four assists.
Sixers coach Conner Henry was delighted with the performance afterwards.
“We were a little bit concerned about them being a little bit underdone last game and then bouncing back with their legs underneath them. So I think mentally our group was really focused,” Henry said.
“We had a day and-a-half basically off after Friday and then we gave the guys the scout, and this was the first game that we kind of executed on both ends the way we felt like we could. It’s more of the identity that we’re forming and it was a really good win from the group.”
It was an impressive all-round showing from the 36ers but going 14/27 from the foul line did mean they never quite put away the Breakers.
While New Zealand coach Dan Shamir has some work to do on Patterson, his other import Coltor Iverson responded to a tough debut to respond with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
There wasn’t much for him to be happy about overall though.
“We are very unhappy with this game. Obviously there’s the result and starting the season like that, but more importantly with how we played,” Shamir said.
“The beginning can be tough and sometimes it’s tough to bring everything to the court that you want to in terms of knowledge, shooting, playing together, chemistry and everything the team is looking to do. Tonight we looked like we were very early in the process and we definitely have a lot to figure out.”
A fresh 36ers started on fire with the game’s opening nine points with the tone set by a drive from Josh Giddey before a bounce pass and flush from Isaac Humphries on the first possession.
Tony Crocker caught fire early too and Adelaide soon led 13-1, 15-4 and still 21-14 by quarter-time even though New Zealand managed a 9-0 run.
The 36ers further broke the game open with three balls from Humphries, Crocker, Sunday Dech and Daniel Johnson to open the second quarter for the game high 19-point advantage.
New Zealand worked back into the game, though, closing the half with a 15-2 run to be down just six.
Keanu Pinder hit from downtown to begin Adelaide taking back over and by the time Donald Sloan connected on the three quarter-time buzzer from the Bunnings Trade sign, the Sixers led 65-55.
New Zealand made a couple of fourth quarter runs firstly when Tai Webster made two strong drives, and then later when Corey Webster drilled back-to-back threes.
But Adelaide had all the answers and some terrific passes and basket inside from Giddey were instrumental in securing the 10-point win.
Both teams back up again in Round 3 with the 36ers hosting the Sydney Kings on Saturday while the Breakers head Perth to play the Wildcats on Sunday.
HUNGRY JACK’S NBL ROUND 3
ADELAIDE 36ERS 88 (Humphries 21, Johnson 17, Crocker 14)
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 78 (Delany 19, C Webster 17, T Webster 15)