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36ers 'shanghai' Cup in Singapore


SINGAPORE: The NBL's Adelaide 36ers today emulated the Boomers by claiming the Merlion Cup at their first attempt, beating China's defending champion Shanghai Sharks 101-81 in the final.

Australia swept to its historic first FIBA Asia Cup triumph last month in Lebanon at its first attempt, 36ers' pair Mitch Creek and Matt Hodgson starters through that unbeaten campaign.

Taking a 3-0 record into today's final and boasting a Dream Team-esque average winning bulge of 41.0ppg, the Sixers started as strong favourites and didn't disappoint. 

Creek (21 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) and Hodgson (13 points, 7 rebounds) were important cogs again, Nathan Sobey (14 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists) saving his best for last with two whopping slam dunks in the final period.

As it has throughout the tournament, Adelaide's pressure eventually wore down Shanghai, its 30-18 final quarter the ultimate dividend.

"I think we may have gotten more than we expected out of this tournament," assistant-coach Kevin Brooks said.

"We definitely identified some areas to work on so we're happy.

"We were very pleased with Hodgy today. They had some big guys and I think he played very well.

"(Shannon) Shorter has shown he's for real. He is a player and can make plays and he's going to get even better when he understands our offence a little more."

The 36ers opened strongly, pushing the ball aggressively at the Sharks, Shorter (20 points at 75 per cent, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) making their intentions clear with an attacking basket that symbolised how they intended to play.

Shorter had an 11-point period on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting and with Daniel Johnson (19 points, 6 rebounds) also in attack mode, the lead quickly jumped to 16-6. An 8-0 run brought the Sharks swimming within biting distance at 14-16, Shorter smacking them on  the snout with a 3-pointer.

By the first break, Adelaide was out 24-16 and with Hodgson starting the second period strongly - he played just 3:49 of the first after collecting two quick fouls - the bulge grew.

A strong offensive board by Johnson pushed the lead to 33-19 but three straight triples swung Shanghai right back into it.

They closed to 37-41 but in the half's last 49 seconds, Creek, Sobey and Ramone Moore combined for a 6-0 run and a 10-point halftime lead.

Again in the third when the 36ers threatened to pull away, ahead 54-39, Shanghai found a way, this time through 208cm forward Hanlin Dong.

Working hard inside, Dong had 11 points for the quarter while import Nick Minnerath (28 points, 8 rebounds) had 12, Shanghai pulling it to 60-66.

But Dong's fourth foul further hampered the Sharks, already down super import Jimmer Fredette.

Adelaide rested import Ronald Roberts (knee sorenesss) and also Anthony Drmic, who landed heavily on his elbow in the 36ers' semi final win.

Fittingly, Nelson Larkins broke the century mark as Adelaide celebrated winning the 11th running of the Merlion Cup.

ADELAIDE 36ERS 101 (Creek 21, Shorter 20, Johnson 19, Sobey 14, Hodgson 13; Hodgson, Creek 7 rebs; Sobey 9 assts) d SHANGHAI SHARKS 81 (Minnerath 28, Dong 22; Minnerath 8 rebs; 3 with 5 assts) at OCBC Arena, Singapore. 

Sep 24

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