Brisbane Bullets star Nathan Sobey has come up big in the fourth quarter to steer his side to a 109-104 victory over Adelaide 36ers in the NBL Cup.
Sobey drilled three triples in the final four minutes of Thursday’s clash at John Cain Arena to fend off a tough challenge from his former club to win a high-scoring affair.
The Sixers stunned the in-form Bullets in the first half to surge ahead by 10 on the way to the largest halftime score in the league this season.
But Adelaide cooled off in the second half and the Bullets finished with a flurry as Sobey continued his recent outstanding form to finish with 30 points while Vic Law added 22.
The Bullets move into top spot on the NBL Cup ladder, one point ahead of Perth who have a game in hand.
“The intent with which we played defence in the first half was unacceptable and that was not going to get us to a win,” coach Andrej Lemanis said.
“It was all about having some individual pride at the defensive end but also a collective pride as a team to force them to make some contested jumpers.
“I thought there was a good reaction to that.”
The Bullets responded after halftime with a 22-10 run to grab the lead then came out on top in a tight final quarter, Adelaide coming up short despite 29 points from Daniel Johnson and 20 from Sunday Dech.
“We knew they were going to come out in the third quarter and play a little harder and execute their game plan a little more sound,” Sixers coach Connor Henry said.
“What’s difficult for us is we didn’t play our scout in the fourth quarter on both ends … we got switched off on certain guys and weren’t supposed to be guarding certain players which led to a lot of easy points for them.”
Adelaide threw down the challenge in the opening quarter with Dech making his first five shots, including two three-pointers and a strong one-handed dunk over Matt Hodgson, in a 29-25 start.
Both teams strung together large scoring runs in the second period but the Sixers managed to take a 62-56 lead into the main break with Johnson and Dech combining for 33 first-half points.
Sobey made seven-of-eight shots for 18 points in the first half but his teammates shared the scoring load in the third quarter as the Bullets surged to the lead.
The Sixers answered to draw level 83-83 heading into the final quarter and edged ahead 101-100 with two-and-half minutes to play before Sobey intervened to swing the match in Brisbane’s favour.