NBL 2013/14: GF Game 2 - Sixers force decider in pulsating contest

Photo Credit: NBL

Adelaide and Perth will battle it out in a third and deciding NBL championship game after the 36ers edged out the Wildcats in a contest for the ages at Adelaide Arena on Friday night.

The Sixers won 89-84 after surviving wave after wave of attack from Perth in the final 10 minutes, with Jermaine Beal (19 points, 6 rebounds) threatening to steal the show and be the hero for the visitors on numerous occasions.

However a pair of missed foul shots by the American guard seemed to slow his side’s momentum as the scores were locked away at 78 with two and a half minutes on the clock, with Adelaide eventually recovering with some big plays of their own.

The home side had earlier started red-hot on the back of star big man Daniel Johnson (18 points, 5 rebounds) as they took a 17-8 lead midway through the first term, before Shawn Redhage and Damian Martin nailed big triples to get the game margin to a single basket.

A see-sawing contest ensued, with neither team able to break the shackles for nearly ten minutes before Adelaide again got on a run to take a 42-32 lead as Gary Ervin (23 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) began heating up.

The Wildcats threatened in the third but the Sixers held sway despite Beal doing everything in his power to keep his side in the contest.

Matt Knight (14 points) went to work inside and got his side within four points late in the third before Adam Gibson (18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) took charge and gave his side a nine-point advantage heading into the final term.

Foul trouble to big guns Redhage, James Ennis and Adelaide’s Johnson meant the final term was as tense as any quarter all season, with a Beal three-pointer handing Perth the lead with five minutes to play.

A clutch steal and four foul shots from Ervin, however, proved the difference in the dying moments. Ervin’s steal with 75 seconds remaining and his side up by one was followed up by Rhys Carter taking the ball off Ennis just 20 seconds later as the Sixers came up empty in between in one of the biggest sequences of play all night.

Ervin and Gibson were enormous for the home side, while Beal was the star for Perth as Ennis (14 points, 9 rebounds, 4-10 FG) endured a quieter-than-usual night, tallying just 14 points before fouling out with 22 seconds left in the contest.

Game three will be held at Perth Arena on Sunday.

Adelaide 36ers 89 (Ervin 23, Johnson 18, Gibson 18) Perth Wildcats 84 (Beal 19, Ennis 14, Knight 14) Attendance: 7,690 @ Adelaide Arena