Gold Coast guaranteed itself a play-off berth with a thrilling 84-83 win over a gallant Adelaide 36ers in their NBL clash at Adelaide Arena on Saturday.
The Blaze looked in control with a 14-point second-quarter lead, but only sealed the win with seconds to play after the 36ers produced a 25-point third term to almost pull off a major upset.
Mark Worthington scored 21 points for the Blaze including the winning basket, while 36ers forward Diamon Simpson also notched 21 points and grabbed 11 boards.
In the early stages, both sides scored freely but the height and power of Worthington and Will Hudson began to tell for the visitors.
With guard Adam Gibson running the show superbly, the Blaze led by 10 before 36ers guard Everard Bartlett launched a spectacular long-range three-pointer on the quarter-time buzzer to reduce the deficit.
Anthony Petrie, Chris Goulding and Tom Garlepp came out firing after the break for Gold Coast, stretching the visitors' lead to 14.
But Adelaide imports Chris Warren and Simpson helped turn the game and, while Hudson continued to terrorise the 36ers' defence, superb three-pointers from Darren Ng and Stephen Weigh had the home crowd roaring.
Simpson was in the mood, drawing fouls and sinking a series of free throws to wrestle back momentum.
When the half-time siren sounded, the Blaze looked happy to still have a 48-41 advantage.
Baskets from Simpson and Daniel Johnson quickly reduced the deficit to two points early in the third quarter.
Gibson and Adris Deleon replied, but a Warren three-pointer maintained Adelaide's pressure.
When Warren sank another the 36ers were in front and, with Johnson on fire, they took a 66-60 lead at the last break.
The Blaze fought back and, in a thrilling finale, Warren tied it up at 80-80 with 45 seconds left.
Gibson then restored the lead only for Warren to produce yet another three-pointer to put the 36ers up by one, before Worthington clinched it with six seconds to play.
AAPTags: nbl, basketball, sport, adelaide-5000, sa, broadbeach-4218, qld, australia First posted March 17, 2012 23:10:45