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Jett skis through Sixers

HE who laughs last, laughs the loudest, or so the saying goes.

Cast as the villain by Adelaide NBL fans and the subject of derision from the moment he hit the hardwood, Illawarra import Jordair Jett enjoyed the last laugh when he completed a sizzling, weaving, threading move through the 36ers’ defence for the winning basket at the buzzer.

Forget that the refs still felt compelled to steal the spotlight by confirming the shot was legal, Jett’s brilliant move gave him the chance to silence those who had taunted him throughout and not only continue the salvaging of the Hawks’ season, but the decimation of Adelaide’s.

Jumping to the lead from the get-go with Ramone Moore’s steal and layup, the 36ers seemed ready to make a statement.

Unfortunately for the 36ers’ faithful, it again was: “We have no halfcourt game.”

Running, pressuring, stealing the ball, the Sixers looked a million dollars racing to a 20-6 lead, Nathan Sobey fabulous, Moore and Jacob Wiley active.

But as soon as Illawarra’s extended zone pressure took the wind from the Sixers’ sails, the momentum changed and it was the Hawks’ benchmen largely responsible.

Viewed more as a henchman than a benchman by 36ers fans, Jett copped it from the moment he set foot on the floor. Adelaide fans have long memories. Last time at Titanium Security Arena, Jett sparked their ire after shoving Harry Froling in a sideline ball chase some minutes after the Sixers’ rookie set a bone-jarring screen on him.

(Still Dave Andersen’s fault for not alerting Jett it was coming …)

Then in Wollongong, it was Jett’s altercation with Wiley which led to the 36er import’s erroneous explusion. Add it all up and it spells “villain”.

By the first break, Illawarra had the lead before Adam Doyle came off the bench in the second quarter to turn the game.

Doyle took on Cedric Jackson for a three-point play, swished consecutive 3-pointers (to equal his NBL career-high of 9 points) dished three assists and took a big charge in the best 7:01 of his elite basketballing life.

Wiley threw down a massive dunk and Adelaide was back playing as it desired.

Having benched Jett in the second period, coach Rob Beveridge gambled on his response and it could not have been better.

Reduced to playing one-on-one “hero ball” in the halfcourt, the 36ers steadily lost their way, Daniel Johnson with few offensive touches and unusually quiet, Demitrius Conger a non-factor, Moore and Froling also less than their usual selves.

Illawarra simply hung tough. Five times players such as Brian Conklin, Andersen, Tim Coenraad and AJ Ogilvy batted away from the ring what appeared to be sure baskets for Adelaide.

Coupled with an awful 18-of-32 return from the free throw line, Adelaide left itself vulnerable and if you give a Hawk a whiff, he knows what to do.

Ahead 86-79 with 1:53 left after Anthony Drmic knocked down two free throws, it was Adelaide’s game to lose – and it promptly did.

FARED WELL: Jordair Jett waves to a section of front row hecklers after his winning basket.

Jett was huge in the rush to the finish line, Todd Blanchfield iced a massive 3-pointer while for the 36ers, Sobey would most likely love to play those last two minutes all over again, so bad was his error-riddle finale.

Having already beaten Cairns on the road, this win was season-altering for the Hawks and an absolute lesson in how to play for the full 40 minutes, even if the refs weren’t convinced with the clock showing 0.0!

For Adelaide, Majok Deng found a bit of form but the team again was exposed in the halfcourt, leaving a tough road ahead.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS 87 (Jett 16, Andersen 11, Ogilvy, Blanchfield, Conklin 10; Ogilvy 8 rebs; Jett 5 assts) d ADELAIDE 36ERS 86 (Sobey 24, Wiley 14; Wiley 11 rebs; Doyle, Moore, Johnson 3 assts) at The Fortress, Titanium Security Arena.

Dec 9

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.