DJ fires to ignite 36ers in comeback win
Adelaide 36ers have fought back from an 18-point half-time deficit to defeat South East Melbourne Phoenix 96-93 at the Entertainment Centre on Friday night.
Sparked by a 31-14 third quarter surge led by boom recruit DJ Vasiljevic, the 36ers showed resilience in front of almost 8000 fans on Brett Maher Court.
Vasiljevic scored a game high 29 points for the home side, 20 of those coming in the second half, while Jacob Wiley was huge for 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Trentyn Flowers showed his worth in extended minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while captain Mitch McCarron added 12 points with three rebounds and three assists and Isaac Humphries adding 10 points.
Alan Williams had a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Mitch Creek scored 20 points and Will Cummings 16 points.
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Williams started strong inside, scoring six quick points as the visitors opened with a 9-4 lead.
Adelaide looked to attack the basket early via Jason Cadee, who got the started for the injured Trey Kell, and Vasiljevic, who scored on tough drives.
Wiley got involved at both ends of the floor, but Williams, then Creek continued to score, the Phoenix starting frontcourt with nine points each in opening quarter.
South East Melbourne then went on a 12-0 run which ended on a three-pointer from Daniel Johnson as the visitors took a 35-18 lead into quarter time.
Vasiljevic looked to spark the home side, the two-time NBL champion continuing his attack on the basket as the Phoenix looked to take away his three-point shot.
Adelaide started to fight back into the contest, Wiley scored his 10th point of the opening half as the home side cut the Phoenix lead to 37-27.
Williams, who scored 13 points in the opening half, picked up his third foul with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter, but the Phoenix found another gear, Johnson hit another triple, then Gary Browne scored on some tough drives as South East Melbourne went to half time with a 53-35 lead.
Adelaide started the second half by looking for Humphries inside on Williams and the 211cm centre scored on consecutive occasions.
The home side looked to continue their attack on the rim, but the shots were not dropping, a Wiley spin move and tough drive from McCarron reduced the Phoenix lead to 55-45.
An unsportsmanlike foul called on Creek turned into a five-point play for the 36ers as Vasiljevic iced two free throws, then Kyrin Galloway connected from beyond the arc.
Another three-pointer from Galloway brought the home fans to their feet as Adelaide cut the margin to 62-55 with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Galloway was the spark the 36ers needed after not featuring in the opening half, scoring eight points, and when Vasiljevic hit a deep three-pointer, the Phoenix lead was just 62-61.
Vasiljevic then connected on a huge three-pointer off the glass as the third quarter buzzer sounded as the 36ers stormed back into the contest, but the Phoenix still held a 67-66 lead with 10 minutes to play.
If the crowd wasn’t already at fever pitch, Flowers made the decibels get even louder, hitting a baseline jump shot, then connecting on a three-pointer to give the home side the lead for the first time since the opening quarter at 73-70.
Adelaide kept their lead throughout a frantic final quarter and the 36ers looked like the winners when Vasiljevic connected again from downtown for an 89-81 lead.
But the Phoenix never gave up, firing back into contest late, reducing the 36ers’ lead to 95-93, until a late free throw from Vasiljevic was enough after a half court heave from Williams fell short.
ADELAIDE 36ERS 96 (Vasiljevic 29, Wiley 17, Flowers 13) def SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 93 (Williams 23, Creek 20, Cummings 16) at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.