The Cairns Taipans continued to show why they are a force to be reckoned with in NBL23, after grinding out a tough game against state rivals the Brisbane Bullets.
For the majority of the first quarter, it was tough for both teams to find the flow offensively in their first game back from the FIBA break. The Taipans had the edge at quarter-time leading by four points, with DJ Hogg, having an instrumental impact, scoring 8 points.
Both teams couldn’t split each other in the second quarter, scoring 20 points each, with the Taipans maintaining a four-point lead at halftime.
The Bullets started to find their range during the second quarter, with DJ Mitchell and Jason Cadee hitting threes swinging the momentum into their side’s favour.
With Nathan Sobey getting the Bullets off to a good start in the third quarter, scoring five quick points, the Taipans responded, through Waardenburg and Shannon Scott.
Whilst the Bullets were on fire, scoring five quick threes in a row, the Taipans again responded quickly, scoring 14 points to maintain the lead at three-quarter time.
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Some big-time plays from Tyler Johnson, Mitchell, and Sobey got the Bullets off to a good start to start the last quarter.
However, Cairns continued to find answers every time Brisbane scored. Brisbane’s scoring dried up and didn’t help itself consistently turning over the ball at crucial times of the game.
The Taipans were able to stand up and respond in the last four minutes of the game, to seal the victory, 80-72.
Speaking to the media post-game, Taipans coach Adam Forde gave his thoughts about the contest.
“It wasn’t the cleanest game for us offensively. There’s not too many times where we’re going to have Bul [Kuol] and ‘Tahj’ [Tahjere McCall] foul out, Shannon [Scott] go 1/12 from the field, DJ [Hogg] not hit a single three, and still score 90 points,” Forde said.
“It’s nice to still get that win. It was just a grindy and gritty game.
“They went on a run; we went on a run. The cool thing was, I used a timeout once to bail us out of a bad situation because it looked stagnant.
“For the most part, the boys did a good job of weathering the storm. They (Bullets) were on a 10-0 run [and] we answered it with a 14-0 run ourselves.”
Keanu Pinder continued his spectacular season, scoring 15 points in the last quarter, while also having to match up with Aron Baynes. Forde spoke about the impact of his star’s performance.
“We didn’t run a lot of sets for him because we had a focus, especially at practice to get Keanu and get everyone else open,” he said.
Taipans forward Bul Kuol spoke about the confidence and the day-to-day focus each game and the last quarter against the Bullets getting the job done.
“We’re just worrying about practising hard and we approach the game the same way every day. Good things will happen because of that,” Kuol said.
“It was a game of runs, it was a gritty game and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the three-point line, but we found a way to attack the paint.
“We had confidence the whole time and our three ball wasn’t falling like usual, but we have confidence in our defence and in our offence.”
In Round 8, the Taipans have a double home game weekend, facing the New Zealand Breakers on Friday night and the Sydney Kings on Monday night, whilst the Brisbane Bullets face the Breakers on Sunday in Auckland.
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