Josh Giddey wasn’t about to get beaten by his old team.
After shocking America with their their stunning win over the Phoenix Suns, the Adelaide 36ers have come crashing back down to earth, going down 131-98 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday (AEDT).
Adelaide shot the lights out from three-point range earlier this week to pull off a historic upset over the Suns, becoming the first NBL team to beat an NBA team.
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But the 36ers couldn’t repeat their heroics in their second exhibition game, going ice cold from beyond the arc while OKC’s Tre Mann could barely miss as he piled on 26 points including 8/10 three-pointers.
A near full-strength OKC starting five took to the court in Oklahoma and they blew the 36ers off the park in the first quarter.
With the rare opportunity to play against his old team, Giddey was on a mission and had his hand in everything in the first period — blocking Adelaide’s Sunday Dech and taking control of the Thunder’s offence on the other end.
He had a sublime behind-the-back dribble followed by a jump shot, as well as a beautiful fake pass euro-step move to finish at the hoop.
The Thunder led 35-16 at quarter time and from then on the starters including Giddey were benched for most of the game.
The 19-year-old made an impact whenever he came on the court, driving to the basket and getting to the foul line on multiple occasions. He finished with 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in just 21 minutes.
It was an emphatic performance by Giddey against the 36ers, for whom he played one season in the NBL, winning Rookie of the Year, before he was drafted by OKC.
While Oklahoma City is one of the weakest teams in the NBA at the moment, they made sure they weren’t consigned to the same fate as the Phoenix Suns.
ESPN’s Olgun Uluc tweeted: “This one is… different.”
“It was a good start for us,” Giddey said after the game.
“We knew not to take these guys lightly after what they did to Phoenix. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us.
“We came out with the right mentality, threw the first punch. From then on, set the tone for the rest of the game and kept that tone going for 48 minutes.”
Giddey said OKC weren’t going to take it easy after seeing Adelaide’s effort against Phoenix.
“Well one, I don’t think they were going to be as hot as they were in Phoenix,” he joked.
“But two, we want to hang our hats on that (defensive) end and we understand they have a hot shooter so closing out and making them go to their second option which is putting the ball on the floor.”
He said it was a thrill to play against his old NBL team and put Australian basketball on the world stage.
“I was really excited,” Giddey said.
“I always used to watch these games. I wish I could have come over when I was in the NBL. I was praying this year I’d be able to play against an NBL team and for it to be my team was that little extra bit special.
“I was super excited. It’s great for Australia’s basketball to be put on a world stage. For them to beat Phoenix and create history for Australian basketball, I’m super happy for them.
“I’m a big NBL advocate and this is only going to get bigger in Australia.”