66ers advance to semi-finals of D-League playoffs

It had all the makings of D-League playoff drama. It was the third and deciding game of the 66ers' first-ever playoff series. It marked a return to Sioux Falls for Sixers’ coach Nate Tibbetts who coached the Skyforce for two seasons before heading to Tulsa. The only thing not in Tibbetts’ game plan was a trip to the hospital.

Tibbetts became ill early Sunday with flu-like symptoms and a stomach virus. He ended up in a Sioux Falls hospital, receiving an IV. “He told us before the game he was going to the hospital and might not come back for the game,” said 66ers guard Kyle Weaver, on assignment from the Thunder. “We wanted to play hard for him and win it for him.”

Nine minutes into the game, Tibbetts surprised everyone and returned to the bench to coach the Sixers to a 111-101 victory over the Skyforce, leading Tulsa to the semi-finals of the playoffs, against the Iowa Energy.

“He was really sick. Coach definitely toughed that one out. I love that,” Weaver said. “When he came back, it gave us even more momentum and energy.”

Weaver led the 66ers with 27 points while collecting 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. Of the other Thunder assignees, Mustafa Shakur added 23 points and Byron Mullens scored 11.

Still having a rough time of it after the game, Tibbetts kept his sense of humor. “I sure would be feeling worse if we had lost," he said.

The best-of-three semi-final playoff series between Tulsa and Iowa begins Friday evening in Tulsa.