The Oklahoma City Thunder sent Kai Sotto and the Adelaide 36ers crashing as they posted a convincing 131-98 victory in their NBAxNBL Preseason Series game Friday morning (Manila time) at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City.
After catching fire in their 134-124 victory over the Phoenix Suns last Monday, the 36ers were surprisingly cold with the 7-foot-2 Sotto finishing without a single point in very limited action despite the absence of starting center Daniel Johnson, who is nursing an ankle injury.
All in all, the 20-year-old phenom wrapped up the night with only four rebounds in a nightmarish 0-of-3 shooting from the field in eight minutes and 39 seconds of action off the bench.
The Thunder roared from start to finish, forcing the 36ers to a forgettable 37-of-98 shooting, which is way far from their red-hot performance from the rainbow area when they torched the Suns to become the first National Basketball League squad to beat a National Basketball Association team.
The Thunder were so good that they even stretched the lead to as high as 40 off Darius Bazley’s layup in the final 55 seconds of the third period, 108-68.
Tre Mann dropped 26 points on a sizzling 9-of-11 shooting while Lindy Waters fired 23 markers and three rebounds for Oklahoma City, which is on a rebuilding phase and missed the playoffs last year.
Former 36ers swingman Josh Giddey chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, which played like a well-oiled machine despite missing the services of Chet Holmgren — the second overall pick of the recent NBA Rookie Draft.
Giddey said they played their hearts out, knowing that the 36ers have what it takes to beat them.
“It was a good start for us,” Giddey said after the game.
“We knew not to take these guys lightly after what they did to Phoenix. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us.”
“We came out with the right mentality, threw the first punch. From then on, set the tone for the rest of the game and kept that tone going for 48 minutes.”
Craig Randall II delivered 27 points for Adelaide, which is now on its way back to Australia to open its season against the Tasmania JackJumpers on 13 October.
36ers coach CJ Burton said sharing the court with elite players from the Suns and the Thunder is already a victory for them.
“For our players to compete against the elite and showcase our talent and see the talent that’s around the world — this is the best league in the world,” Burton said.
“To be able to compete against them and see where they sit, how much they need to work on. It’s a dream come true for a lot of our guys, they probably only got to play against them on 2K.”