Slick Phoenix blitz Sixers in NBL
Dynamic South East Melbourne import Keifer Sykes stamped himself as an early MVP candidate after piloting Phoenix to an 89-83 win over the Adelaide 36ers on Wednesday.
Sykes (24 points, seven assists) flew past opposition import point guard Donald Sloan for the evening's opening score, dunked on Sixers centre Isaac Humphries late in the third term and smoked 10 points in less than three minutes in the fourth to put Adelaide away and exact swift retribution following last Sunday's double-overtime defeat.
He and fellow quicksilver guard Kyle Adnam (17 points) ran rings around the 36ers all evening at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
"It's a smaller backcourt but I know defensively they can handle bigger players," Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said of his pint-sized matchwinning duo.
"I've got to learn to play them together a little more.
"Both those guys are two of the best point guards in the league."
Twin towers Humphries (20 points, eight rebounds) and Daniel Johnson (19, 11) were the best for the hosts, who were weakened by the absence of Josh Giddey, the matchwinner in the Sixers' titanic win last Sunday.
Down 21-19 at the end of a scrappy opening stanza, the 36ers still trailed 47-43 at half-time, thanks largely to Sykes and Adnam, before in-form Johnson, who was foul-riddled and frustrated early, bounced back strongly.
His triple midway through the third period gave Adelaide the lead, briefly, before Phoenix struck back strongly.
The 183cm Sykes, the smallest man on the court, put 211cm Humphries on a poster with an audacious dunk to help the visitors draw clear 71-61 at three-quarter-time before continuing his domination in the fourth.
"We've got to get some easier baskets," Sixers coach Conner Henry said.
"We're not getting great looks. We had to grind everything out and that's tough to do.
"Our offence is a work in progress right now and we'll have to figure that out."
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