18/04/2024

Taipans coach Mike Kelly and Jordan Ngatai front the media. Picture @NBL on Twitter

The Taipans took it up to Melbourne United at points in their Good Friday clash, but were unable to sustain the pressure for the full match.

The Cairns Taipans took it right up to Melbourne United in their Good Friday clash but were unable to sustain the pressure for the full match, and eventually went down by 10 points.

The Taipans had fought back from double digit margins but were unable to get any closer than four points.

Coach Mike Kelly said the performance, despite the loss, showed a lot of effort.

“It’s not like the performance was a total change of effort for the guys,” he said.

“We played a tough team, who kind of nutted it out, longer than we did.

“They were able to grind, and we were able to stay in it with some shot making and controlled the boards a little bit better, or should say didn’t let them control the boards as much as they did in the first half.

“We played some good basketball, just hasn’t been 40 minutes consistently.”

With the Taipans on the bottom of the ladder, questions were asked on where they go from here and Kelly had a measured response.

“I think you continue to preach fundamentals, and doing it better,” he said.

“We gave up some offensive boards in that first half and got pushed out of what we want to do when they upped the pressure, instead of being able to flip it and return the pressure.

“I think it’s continuing to work on those details and executing better and continuing to finish plays.

“We would have good defensive possessions and didn’t finish the play, had a lack of rotation on a couple, [and] it’s not good enough to beat good teams.

“Close enough is not going to be good enough to beat these good teams.”

One of the best players for Cairns tonight was Jordan Ngatai who had 17 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Ngatai has had a good season so far, and Kelly says he has done well with his opportunities.

“I think he’s unlocking how he can be a consistent performer in this league,” he said.

“He shoots the ball very well, we want our guys who can shoot to take open jumpers.

“And he has to have that mindset, because guys will serve it up to him when they get doubled.

“I’ve always said he’s a guy who will defend and play hard, and can knock down a jumper, and can finish at the rim.

“Those are things that make a good NBL player.”

Ngatai, to his credit, has always backed himself to play well when given an opportunity.

“I’ve always had that confidence in myself, and then having coach Mike, and being under him this year, as a player has been really good,” he said.

“He’s real encouraging, he wants players to take those [jumper] shots.

“I think if I stay with that mindset, I know I’ve got the confidence of the coaches and myself and my teammates, I think I can just keep improving.”

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