Basketball: Sixers inch closer to ANBL crown

Nathan Sobey reacts during the game one NBL Semi Final between Adelaide and Illawarra. Photo / Getty Images
Nathan Sobey reacts during the game one NBL Semi Final between Adelaide and Illawarra. Photo / Getty Images

The Adelaide 36ers are within touching distance of this year's NBL grand final after convincingly downing the Illawarra Hawks 93-78 in the semi-final series opener.

Newly-crowned league MVP Jerome Randle was prolific for the Sixers with 26 points and six rebounds.

The home side's dominant 28-15 second quarter was the key to them snapping a four-match pre-finals losing streak after the Hawks got off to a flier.

Tim Coenraad single-handedly kept Illawarra in the contest, scoring 26 points.

His four-point play on the coat-tails of Kevin White's back-to-back triples allowed the Hawks to control the early stages.

Anthony Drmic's three-pointer on the quarter-time buzzer shaved Illawarra's advantage to 27-24 before Randle, who accused the Hawks of playing "dirty" basketball in the lead-up to the game, led a commanding second term for Adelaide.

Nathan Sobey's spectacular block of Nick Kay's dunk attempt was the highlight of a lopsided second period, at the end of which the 36ers transformed their three- point quarter-time deficit into a 10-point half-time lead.

Adelaide extended its advantage to 64-47 midway through the third after a Matt Hodgson power slam and Mitch Creek's steal and breakaway dunk.

Illawarra pulled the gap back to 73-65 at three-quarter-time but the Hawks, with Coenraad, Marvelle Harris and Rhys Martin all fouling out, were unable to maintain the fightback.

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