29/05/2024

Keanu Pinder has had a hot start to the NBL23 season. (Photo: NBL)

The Taipans’ 26-18 third quarter saw them record another comeback win on Thursday night, led by Keanu Pinder and their brilliant offence.

Melbourne United set themselves up in the first half with the help of Xavier Rathan-Mayes, but needed support from others. The Taipans stayed in the game, converting their three-point shooting and punishing United with second chance efforts and rebounds.

The Taipans had the biggest scoring run of 22 in the game, winning points from turnovers 18-15. United had four more turnovers, whilst the Taipans had two more rebounds in the rebounding category.

Speaking to media post-game, Taipans coach Adam Forde spoke about coming back from double digits and lifting the energy.

“We didn’t look over enthusiastic about the first quarter. We talked about [how] Melbourne were going to come out and really show their home crowd that [they’re] going to win this game,” he said.

“We needed to weather that storm in the first quarter. I think our energy allowed that stretch out the entire half.

Forward DJ Hogg spoke about what changed in the second half.

“We came out with flat shots, ball was sticking. Melbourne were making shots downhill a little too easy and we weren’t playing the right way,” he explained.

“In the second half, we picked up, even though they went on, we were able to weather the storm and focus on figuring out how to win the game and win on the road.”

One matchup that was one to watch was in the post between Pinder and Isaac Humphries.

Pinder currently averages 19 points per game, shooting 51 per cent and over 10 rebounds. He was once again unstoppable on Thursday, finishing the game with a double double: 26 points and 10 rebounds.

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Forde praised the work ethic Pinder showed all game, and was pleased with his performance.

“I think we need to stop talking about the player he was and address that player that he is,” the coach said.

“All we’ve done is just expanded what he’s good at and given him more opportunities. He [Pinder] plays into his comfort zone training at a training venue, which is still at a high degree of competitiveness and energy.”

Coming off the bench, Forde lauded the work of Mirko Djeric, coming off the bench.

Playing the most minutes he had all year, he played an important role, finishing the game with 11 points, and stepping up in the big moments.

“He’s registered a couple of DNPs. Mirko stepped up and he can be frustrated, he has every right to be frustrated,” Forde said.

“He went from being a starter two years ago to registering his first career DNP. He got on court, seized the moment was massive for us, that corner three helped get the offensive rolling.

“No words can describe how happy I am for him. We do no favours, we play no favourites, when your number’s called, step up, and he did amazing.”

With the likes of Pinder and Djeric playing a big role in the win, Forde spoke about how multiple players can step up at any time.

He’s backing anyone on the team to take the reins, and that the players who can speak up in the big moments.

“We have no captain because we don’t want to burden someone with the responsibility to navigate every difficult situation, and there’s different forms of leadership,” Forde explained.

“Keanu is another one that leads by example, in terms of his work ethic and the way he goes about day to day.

“DJ is a leader in his own way, in his experience, his composure.”

“[Shannon Scott] is a seasoned veteran, he’s a point guard. Shannon does his job the way he should. and props to Shannon for being the ultimate professional he is.”

With the Taipans currently sitting in the top two, Forde spoke about the confidence that the group is building in the early part of the season.

“I have confidence is this group. We just need to make sure that we weather the storm and trust what we need to do,” he said.

“When we’re trying to win games on the defensive end, to stay competitive, the biggest difference is that we carry ourselves like we’re in the contest.”

The Taipans return to Cairns to face the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday afternoon.

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