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Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans Game Preview

Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Saturday, 15 October Where: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ On guard It’s fair to say new Kings coach Andrew Gaze is pretty happy with his starting backcourt of Kevin Lisch and Jason Cadee, who combined for 40 points and nine assists to lead Sydney to a drought-breaking win in the ‘Gong. “Kevin and Jason were outstanding tonight in the guard spots … but that control and poise was far greater on the floor than it was in the coaching box,” Gaze joked after his team’s nail-biting road win. “In all seriousness, they are great leaders and Jason has matured tremendously. When we were a point up with a minute-and-a-half to go, that baseline drive and floater that went in, that was a massive, massive play.” It was Cadee who kept the Kings in the game in the first half with his red-hot 4-of-4 perimeter display, then Lisch joined the party to bring the bus home after intermission with a typically cool performance. Please lead While the Kings leaders got the job done in Wollongong, Taipans coach Aaron Fearne was left ruing some rudderless play at key moments in his team’s loss in Perth last Saturday. “I’m big on preparation and discipline and execution and we just broke down in numerous ways,” he said. “Guys have to work harder, prepare better, have better leadership. We lacked some direction out there at times, especially down the stretch I don’t know what we were running.” Cairns recruited former Michigan State University standout Travis Trice to be their backcourt general, but their pint-sized point guard missed a large chunk of the pre-season and it has shown. “Travis is underdone, not sharp enough,” Fearne said after his point guard tallied just two points on 1-of-9 shooting. “He needs to be really locked in and run the team and direct and control, he’s not there, he’s been out too many games and he’s behind, you can see that.” Big battle With centre Nate Jawai expected to return to the court this Saturday night when the teams meet in Sydney, Fearne needs Trice and captain Cam Gliddon getting their big men involved, be that Jawai or back-up centre Nnanna Egwu. “I thought Nnanna was really solid for the role we need him to play. It’s going to take Nate a long time to get back into the swing of things so he’s going to be really important to us,” Fearne said. Gaze, on the other hand, loved the way Cadee and Lisch utilised the skills of NBA recruit Josh Powell, who had a rock-solid 14 points and six boards on debut. “He can play the game, and once he gets a bit better understanding of our system we can exploit his talents even more, but Kevin and Jason and all the guys that played did their best to get him the ball in situations where he is good,” Gaze said. “When he got it down low, he had a couple of ‘gimmes’, but some of that turnaround stuff with that size and bulk, you can see why he’s played at the highest level.” The battle between former NBAers Powell and Jawai is sure to be a highlight, as are the Brad Newley-Fuquan Edwin match-up, Boomers Lisch and Gliddon going head-to-head and the opportunity to see Kings import Greg Whittington above the rim again. New ingredients Another intriguing aspect will be Gaze’s first back-to-back weekend as a coach, and he is fully aware repeating Thursday’s defensive display – which held the free-wheeling Hawks to 84 points – will be a tough ask. “We played really good defence because we had a plan, we went about it in a methodical way in as far as our preparation, and you could clearly see what we were trying to do,” he said. “We did that on four or five day’s practice, now we have a video session and a walk through on game day to prepare.” In contrast, the Taipans sit and wait, and while Fearne has delivered some home truths this week, he’s also fully aware the Taipans almost triumphed in Perth without Jawai and Stephen Weigh thanks to their “real will to keep battling and fighting”. But after watching Trice, Gliddon, Alex Loughton and Mark Worthington shoot a combined 9-of-41 in Round 1, Fearne said there is one key ingredient that must be added to pinch a road win at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night. “We’ve got to make some shots,” he said. “You’re not going to win a game shooting 21 per cent at half-time, and it’s hard to win a game shooting 30 per cent, but we were in a position to win so there’ll be some positives there.”
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