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Jawai returns to Cairns

Tonight’s game between the Cairns Taipans and the Perth Wildcats will mark a special homecoming for the NBL’s own man mountain, Nate Jawai. Although Jawai and his Perth teammates are sure to feel the heat inside the Cairns Convention Centre, there will no doubt be more than a few Taipans fans glad to see a favourite son treading up and down the pine again, no matter what colour singlet he is wearing. “Being back here playing in front of the home crowd I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” said Jawai as he fronted the press in Cairns yesterday. “It’s going to be special but at the same time I can’t let it get to me too much, I just have to focus on one thing and that’s getting my team across the line and come up with the win, so that’s my main focus right now.” Jawai’s story is a classic one of talent, development and mentoring coming together to produce the finished product. He first came down from the Cape York Peninsula to hone his craft in Cairns and was fortunate to be taken under the wing of current Taipans coach Aaron Fearne, who was then overseeing the Cairns Taipans Academy. After playing for the Cairns Marlins in the QBL he gained a spot on the Taipans roster in 2007/08 where Fearne was also an assistant coach. The strength of their relationship was evident when Fearne travelled with Jawai to the States in 2008 and was there to support him when he was drafted by Indiana. After not being able to get a game with the Pacers, Jawai was traded to Toronto where he made history in January 2009 by becoming the first indigenous Australian to play in the NBA. He subsequently went to Europe where he played with some huge clubs including Barcelona and Galatasaray, but now he finds himself in Wildcats team that has put the rest of the league on notice. “It’s a great organisation. The coaching staff are great and I love my teammates and it’s a nice city also, a bit like Cairns but bigger,” he said. Jawai and the top-of-the-table 'Cats take on the Snakes tonight at 7:30pm EDT, live on FOX Sports Australia 503 and the official NBL app. Click HERE for the preview.  
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