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Adelaide 36ers v Cairns Taipans Game Preview

Adelaide 36ers v Cairns Taipans When: 7pm (AEDT), Friday 21 October Where: Titanium Security Arena, Adelaide Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ The Wright way Going into last Sunday’s visit to Brisbane, 36ers coach Joey Wright made a revealing statement. “I’m definitely not thinking about winning and losing, I’m thinking about getting these guys to play the brand of basketball we need to play,” he said. Twice in the opening two rounds – a thrashing in Wollongong and the majority of the home loss to Melbourne – the 36ers had allowed their opposition to play on their terms, the Hawks and United free-wheeling their way to comfortable wins. Last Sunday, however, the Bullets were never allowed to feel comfortable, Adelaide showing tremendous fight to repeatedly reel in deficits, including an 11-point margin midway through the final term. The 36ers’ epic win was a triumph for the heart of Wright’s young team, the audacious play of Nathan Sobey, the feathery touch of Daniel Johnson, the man-sized grunt work of Eric Jacobsen and, of course, the fearless shot-making of Jerome Randle. But it wasn’t quite “the brand of basketball we need to play” according to Wright, with Brisbane’s bigs dominating them on the glass to nearly sabotage the 36ers’ dogged defensive efforts. Glass cocktail “They outrebounded us by almost 20 and they had 22 offensive rebounds, and usually that’s a cocktail for losing,” Wright said. “What we did do is, even though they offensive rebounded, we challenged the second time, so we put a lot of effort into the first play to get a stop, and we put a lot of effort into the second play to get a stop. “We’d do ourselves a lot of favours though getting one stop and going the other way because we’re really tough in transition.” The 36ers return home this Friday to face a winless Cairns, whose mediocre work on the glass so far this season will have Wright hopeful his men can dominate the defensive glass and run the visitors off their feet. Yet while the Taipans rank second last in offensive rebounding – ahead of only Adelaide – with Nate Jawai and Mark Worthington slowly returning to fitness and Nnanna Egwu showing his capabilities against Sydney with 14 points and three o-boards, they will challenge the 36ers’ unproven interior. Wayward ‘Pans However, coach Aaron Fearne believes his team simply need to start putting the ball in the hole or else they will continue to play on the back foot. “It’s hard to keep playing defence at a super-high level when you’re not scoring,” he said. “It just puts more pressure on your D and when it breaks down it seems worse than what it is.” The numbers don’t look good at either end for Cairns, shooting a miserly 36 per cent from the field and 26 per cent from the arc – both last in the league – while conceding 48 per cent and 37 per cent respectively, both second highest in the NBL. Remarkably, despite those woes the Taipans took Perth to overtime in Round 1 and were within a basket of Sydney with two minutes to play last Saturday, leaving Fearne to rue wasted chances. He described his team’s playing style and execution at the pre-season Australian Basketball Challenge as “totally different”, the Taipans now out of sync as key players return from injuries. The positive is Mark Worthington and Jawai both have another week of training under their belt, while import point guard Travis Trice looked a different player against the Kings after a timid NBL debut in Perth. “I expect Nate to be a major contributor, as I do Travis, as I do Wortho,” Fearne said. “While they're working back in, the other guys who have been with us since day one we need them to perform really well and it’s not happening. “It all has to work, everyone has to do their thing because it’s a timing thing, we want to play with some timing and we’re not able to do that because were not quite all on the same page.” Outlet passes Most importantly, Cairns have to make shots. Cam Gliddon, Alex Loughton, Fuquan Edwin, Worthington and Trice have shot a combined 8-of-42 from long range, providing plenty of chances for opponents to rebound and run. Randle is one of the best the league has ever seen in transition and almost impossible to stop when he receives a quick outlet pass, and high-energy youngsters like Sobey, Jacobsen, Terrance Ferguson and Majok Deng are more than happy to join the open-court party. “I think our guys on the bench are really stepping in and providing firepower,” Wright said. “In the four games we’ve played our bench has really sparked us. We’ve got some guys there who are really capable, in our trainings our first team and second team we don’t know who’s going to win, they go back and forth daily. “We feel like we’re very balanced there and we can use that to our advantage.”
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