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Randle, gutsy Sixers overthrow Bairstow debut in OT

Playoff quality basketball is here and it’s only Round 2 of the NBL season. The Adelaide 36ers have shown a mountain of courage to record a thrilling 96-93 overtime win over the Bullets in Brisbane on Sunday night. Their embarrassment at the hands of Illawarra in Round 1 is now a distant memory for the Sixers in a pulsating clash where they had to twice reel in a 10-point deficit. Jerome Randle has staked a genuine early claim for the season's MVP award, hauling the club off the canvass with his 34 points, four assists and three steals. It was fitting that 'Handle' Randle stroked home what were ultimately the match-winning points. The 36ers win was built on a never-say-die attitude and Adelaide coach Joey Wright, who was at the helm of the Bullets when they last won the championship in 2005/06, said the win spoke volumes of the character of his charges. "For these guys to be able to rock up, nobody thinking they can win and be down and not quit, just shows a lot about their character," he said post-game. "Jerome was outstanding. His ability to create shots for himself – and others – is who he is." With just one win in the bank, their captain Mitch Creek (foot fracture) on the sidelines and assigned the task of beating the previously undefeated Bullets, the wolves were at the door. Randle threatened to break the game open in the second quarter, with five rapid points, until he went down clutching at his left knee after colliding with Tom Jervis. The star import limped off the court for treatment, but returned just two minutes later and ended up playing 38 minutes of the match. But he didn't do it alone. Emerging talent Nathan Sobey was clutch on his way to 21 points, six assists and a steal, while Daniel Johnson's 3/5 shooting from beyond the arc shifted the momentum more than once. The Bullets had welcomed back former Chicago Bull and hometown product Cameron Bairstow to the court for the first time. His input was enormous, with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists coming from the bench. Imports Torrey Craig (22 points, three steals, two blocks) and Jermaine Beal (21 points, two assists) were huge. But Beal was left to lament a wide open three-point look in the shadows of full-time in regulation that would have delivered his side the win. It looked to be a long night at the office for Adelaide when they trailed by 10 at half-time, and again by that margin in the fourth quarter. The defence was ferocious on both ends, but the baskets were mostly the stuff of highlight reels. But it was the heart of the 36ers that brought them home, and back in striking distance of the NBL top four. After the game a shell-shocked Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis paused for a long time before offering a response to the stunning Adelaide fightback. "The thing for us was certainly a lack of urgency on the defensive end," he said. "When we got that lead and they kinda came charging at us, we gave up too many easy scores."   ADELAIDE 36ERS 96 (Randle 34, Sobey 21, Johnson 13) BRISBANE BULLETS 93 (Craig 22, Beal 21, Bairstow 15) BOXSCORE
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