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Adelaide 36ers become first NBL team to defeat an NBA team

James Foglio profile picture
Updated 2 months ago on

3 min read

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Adelaide 36ers become first NBL team to defeat an NBA team
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On Sunday, the Adelaide 36ers of the NBL made history in their 134-124 win over the Phoenix Suns, becoming the first Australian-based club to defeat an NBA team. At one point, the 36ers had a 16-point lead.

The 36ers became the first non-NBA team to win a preseason game in the United States since Fenderbahce — a Turkish basketball club — defeated the Brooklyn Nets in October 2015.

In the Suns’ preseason opener, the Western Conference contender finished 9-of-34 (26.5%) shooting from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the 36ers shot an impressive 24-of-43 (55.8%) from downtown.

Several NBA betting sites had the Suns winning by double digits. According to some sportsbooks, the Suns possess top-1o odds of winning a championship in 2023. Feel free to compare title odds.

Furthermore, even at the free throw line, the 36ers were more accurate. They shot 18-of-20 (90%) at the line. As for the Suns, they ended their night 19-of-23 (82.6%).

Adelaide guard Craig Randall II led his team in scoring with 35 points. In 37 minutes of action, he finished 13-of-21 (61.9%) shooting from the field and 9-of-17 (52.9%) from beyond the arc.

Adelaide 36ers are the first NBL club to beat an NBA team, winning 134-124 over the Phoenix Suns

Was the win a fluke? One anonymous NBA executive doesn’t think so. “The gap is closing,” the unknown source told ESPN after the exhibition matchup. On the other hand, some fans are downplaying this loss by just calling it a meaningless preseason game.

First and foremost, Suns starters Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton all played only 22 minutes. Bridges and Ayton both scored 22 points.

36ers wing Robert Franks ended his performance with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in 42 minutes on the court. So, that was almost double the time.

Additionally, the Suns’ reserves outscored the 36ers’ bench 57-26. Phoenix outscored them 64-30 in the paint as well.

Perhaps the bigger story here should pertain to terrible defensive outings by both teams. Phoenix surrendered over 30 points in the first, second, and fourth quarters.

Those could say that the Suns’ backups were outmatched by Adelaide’s starters throughout most of the game. The Suns also won the turnover battle.

Though, another difference-maker was points off turnovers. The Adelaide 36ers committed 24 turnovers, whereas Phoenix finished with 16. But the 36ers still scored 32 points off the Suns’ 16 turnovers.


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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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