21 January, 2021
First up win delights the Orange Army
After a delayed start North Queensland’s own Cairns Taipans tipped off on Saturday night against the Sydney Kings.
The Taipans started the season benefiting highly from NBL’s Next Stars Program with promising youngster Mojave King making his pro debut. The 17 year old said, ‘the opportunity to learn and play against guys that are already pro’s will do a better job developing me for wherever I’m trying to get to, whether that be NBA or trying to be the best player I can be’.
In a high scoring first half Casper Ware Jr took control for the Kings scoring 15 points with Taipans senior coach Mike Kelly commending star Scott Machado for guarding Ware Jr and running the Taipans offence. At the long break the Taipans were down by 1 point.
The third quarter was hard-fought. The Kings were able to take control towards the end of the quarter and at the change Sydney head coach Adam Forde told his players, ‘that’s all they’ve got’ when referring to the Taipans 3 point accuracy. The Taipans went into the last down by 6 points.
The near compacity crowd of 1,919 packed into the Taipans temporary home crowned ‘The Snag Pit ‘located in the old Bunnings. Forward for the Taipans Kouat Noi commented post game, ‘the crowd was loud today, amazing place at the end and got us going’.
The Taipans played with the momentum in the last with, Fabian Krslovic (2 steals), Scott Machado (17 points), Cam Oliver (10 rebounds) and Mirko Djeric (15 points) leading the way which got the Taipans to 1 point lead with two seconds left. The crowd were at fever pitch as the Kings took possession and immediately passed to Ware Jr who was fouled in controversial fashion but after review, it was deemed he was fouled in play and not in the action of shooting. The siren sounded and the Taipans where winners by 1 point.
Senior coach Mike Kelly praised the continuity of the group saying, ‘the guys didn’t play great basketball at stages tonight but stayed together down the stretch as a group’. Forward Kouat Noi said, ‘it was good to get the first one out of the way and get the win also’.
In other league news Melbourne United, Illawarra and Adelaide were all able to start their seasons off with a win. The Taipans is next home game this Saturday January 24 against the Kings at The Snag Pit.
Cairns Taipans 87 (Machadado 17 Djeric 15 Deng 13) d Sydney Kings 84 (Ware 18 Vasilijevic 15 Newley 14) at the Snag Pit