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GAME REPORT

Gliddon Inspires Phoenix Comeback Win Over Sixers

They may have missed the #NBL22 finals but South East Melbourne Phoenix still have a few tricks up their sleeve, engineering an incredible come-from-behind 94-91 win over the giant-slaying Adelaide 36ers on Friday night.

Adelaide had been enjoying a strong finish to the season with shock road wins over top four sides Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats and were well on track to make it three-from-three. The 36ers led by as many as 17 and went into the final quarter with a 14-point advantage.

The Phoenix looked dead and buried, but they lived up to their name to rise from the ashes with a stunning final quarter. 

It was spearheaded by Cam Gliddon (24 points including 6/11 from long range) who went off the chain in the last term to lead his side to victory. 

Gliddon was left open too many times and hit three vital triples down the stretch before Izayah Le'afa nailed a three-pointer to steal the lead - and the game.

Sunday Dech (18 points, five assists and a steal) thought he had done enough to force the game into overtime with a tough shot from the corner, but his foot was on the line and it only counted for two points when three were required. 

Adelaide still had two attempts at long-range shots that would have forced overtime after that, but they both rimmed out.

Brandon Ashley was impressive off the bench for the Phoenix with 14 points and 11 boards while Xavier Munford (14 points, five rebounds, five assists), Zhou Qi (12 points, seven rebounds) and Mitch Creek (11 points, six rebounds, two assists) all reached double figures.

Simon Mitchell praised the impact of Ashley off the bench and the three-point shooting that had abandoned them in recent matches.

"Bash was unreal for us tonight, he gave us a bit of pop off the bench that has been missing for a while. Three-point baskets are so important in our league and that has been a big hole for us for such a long time, the last six weeks we have really struggled from the perimeter," Mitchell said.

""We went from No.1 in the league to, I don't know where but we would be somewhere down the bottom of the ratings. Glizzo (Gliddon) straightened us up tonight.

"Execution down the stretch was a big tick for us. We had to do it in unorthodox ways at times, but we got the job done regardless."

Dusty Hannahs late-season revival for the 36ers continued with 18 points and three assists while Daniel Johnson had 18 points, six rebounds and two assists. 

Adelaide coach CJ Bruton was disappointed with the loss and blamed effort for not getting the job done, but said they were determined to make amends in their final game of the season against the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday.

"It started with our defence. We were slow getting into our stuff in the final quarter, it was very disappointing and the job isn't done yet," Bruton said.

"Yeah, we're disappointed but I told the boys you can't cry and put your lip down right now, we have another game to go and prepare for.

"It's been a frustrating season, the little things come back and bite you and this is a game that we let get away - there's been a few of those - we've been so up and down. We have one more chance to correct that and I'm glad."

A three-point splash from Sunday Dech in his 100th NBL game opened up an early 7-2 lead for the Sixers. From there, they got hot as Dech nailed his second long-range attempt and Kai Sotto had an immediate impact off the bench.

The Adelaide lead extended to seven before Cam Gliddon was able to hit a triple that sparked a run from the home team and they closed to within a single point. 

A Todd Withers triple late in the quarter was a dagger for the Phoenix but Qi kept toiling in the pain and finished with 10 points for the quarter. However, it was Adelaide leading 22-19 at the first break. 

Adelaide skipped out to an eight-point lead punctuated by a wide-open Daniel Johnson triple. When Dech slashed his way to the basket, the margin was double figures.

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell called two time outs, including a standing one, but the players weren't responding. The triples kept flying as Johnson and Mojave King exploited the lack of interest from South East Melbourne and Mitchell could only rub his head as the lead blew out to 17.

It was starting to look ugly until some easy baskets started to fall for the Phoenix to reduce the margin to 10 points, and eight by the half-time break.

The Phoenix made strong start to the third quarter. Adelaide was grabbing the offensive boards with ease and threatened to streak away again until a Brandon Ashley intercept slashed the margin to just five points once more.

Adelaide coach CJ Bruton called his charges in for a timeout and called them out on their body language, asking them to lift. 

Lift they did, the 36ers going on a scoring rampage including a Sotto triple that pushed their lead out to 15. By the time the third quarter ended, Adelaide led 74-60 and were looking good to claim their third big scalp in a row.

South East Melbourne had one last burst left in them and Gliddon's third triple of the night cut the lead to just nine points again with plenty of time left.

When Gliddon splashed his fourth triple to complete a 12-0 run from the Phoenix, the alarm bells were ringing for 36ers fans. When Gliddon had his fifth, the Phoenix faithful were daring to believe.

Then, when Gliddon hit his sixth, the Phoenix had stolen the lead with less than two minutes left on the clock.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 21

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 94 (Gliddon 24, Ashley 14, Munford 14)

ADELAIDE 36ERS 91 (Dech 20, Johnson 18, Hannahs 18) 

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