Basketball: 36ers dominated the paint in Sharks rout

The Adelaide 36ers' Mitchell Creek going for an open layup during the Merlion Cup final at the OCBC Arena. The 36ers overpowered last year's winners Shanghai Sharks by 20 points to claim the Cup yesterday.
The Adelaide 36ers' Mitchell Creek going for an open layup during the Merlion Cup final at the OCBC Arena. The 36ers overpowered last year's winners Shanghai Sharks by 20 points to claim the Cup yesterday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Adelaide side beat defending champs to win Merlion Cup in preparation for NBL season

Points in the paint proved to be the difference as the Adelaide 36ers showed the Shanghai Sharks in winning the Merlion Cup at the OCBC Arena yesterday.

The four-time National Basketball League (NBL) champions outscored the Sharks 60 to 32 points in the paint, converting 60 per cent of their shots near the rim as they led wire-to-wire in a 101-81 win.

"We know that we've got great bigs inside, so we like to play inside-outside," said 36ers captain Brendan Teys, 27. "We like to throw it to our bigs, give them the opportunity to score first.

"If they don't have anything, they'd hit cutters and perimeter players for three."

Mitchell Creek led the 36ers with 21 points and seven rebounds, as all five 36ers starters finished in double figures. The 36ers also benefited from 14 second-chance and 16 fast-break points.

Said Teys, who started on the bench and finished with nine points along with two rebounds: "We've got a great athletic team, so whenever we can attack the rim, that gives us the extra opportunities for free throws. We've got guys with a knack for offensive rebounding - they're going to crash the boards, try to be relentless and that's the way we rebound."

OPPONENTS NOT A PUSHOVER

We definitely didn't take it easy on anyone so it's a credit to the rest of Asia how tough the competition is.

BRENDAN TEYS, Adelaide 36ers captain, on his side being pushed for their Merlion Cup win.

The Sharks' game plan was clear as they had 28 three-point attempts, connecting on 11 of them. Last year's Merlion Cup winners were led by Nick Minnerath with 28 points and eight rebounds.

Shanghai's three-point shooting ability proved to be just what 36ers' head coach Joey Wright was looking to drill his team against, as they prepare for the new season of Australia's National Basketball League (NBL), which starts in a fortnight.

"Playing four games in four days definitely is going to give us some match fitness," the 49-year-old said. "Just having some great shooters on the court helped make us react in different ways.

"We wanted to work on our defensive schemes like trapping, switching (onto the shooters).The fast pace where the Asian teams play at was also good for us."

The Australian outfit also used the competition to gel as a unit, with Wright seeing the benefits of team bonding.

Teys agreed, saying: "It's great, we've got a game in two weeks in the NBL so... it's an awesome experience for us to play overseas against different competition that we're not used to playing against.

"We were pushed in a couple of games - our semi-final and the final - so we had to play hard for every possession. We definitely didn't take it easy on anyone so it's a credit to the rest of Asia how tough the competition is."

In the third-place play-off, South Korean side Jeonju KCC Egis beat the Singapore Slingers 78-68 to finish third.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline '36ers dominate the paint in Sharks rout'. Print Edition | Subscribe