Hungry Jack's NBL
R11 Preview | Cairns Taipans v Perth Wildcats
Cairns Taipans v Perth Wildcats When: 7.50pm (AEDT), Monday 31 December Where: Cairns Convention Centre Broadcast: Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ The last time Perth 94 (Cotton 21, Kay 15, White 15) d Cairns 72 (Newbill 17, Jawai 13, Kenny 12), RAC Arena, Round 8 In their second meeting of the season, the Wildcats jumped the visiting Taipans early, racing out to an 18-7 start. By quarter time they were in control, up 31-17 and maintained that margin at half time also. The second half wasn’t much different as the Wildcats blew the gap out to 22 points midway through the third quarter. And while the Taipans pegged back some of that by three quarter time and got to within 10 points in the fourth, the Wildcats were never really challenged and eventually blew the margin out again, ensuring no repeat of their previous meeting that went to overtime. The home side cruised to a 22-point win, improving their record to 11-2, while Cairns dropped their tenth straight to fall to 1-10. The now As it turns out, that was the last time the Wildcats won a game and coming off a very disappointing road loss to the Hawks in Round 10, they’ve now dropped five of their last six games. The Cats looked to be in control up by 15 points early in the second quarter and still ahead by 12 points at halftime, but a 15-3 Hawks run to start the third period saw the game tied midway through that quarter. After edging in front, the Hawks trailed by just two points at the final change and then proceeded to hold Perth to a paltry 9 points in the fourth, while adding 15 themselves. 81-77 the final margin in favour of Illawarra. Nick Kay failed to score in double figures for the first time sine Round 3 and just the second time all season. The Taipans can’t get to the New Year fast enough. Despite being competitive most weeks, and again in their last game against Adelaide, Cairns has not been able to break through for a win since their season opener in Brisbane. Once again, the Taipans were in the game in the fourth quarter, trailing by just two points with just over two minutes to go, and after a Jawai lay up made it a two point deficit again with 12 seconds remaining, they were forced to foul. With 10 seconds left, the Snakes had the ball down by 3 points, but could not get a three point attempt off; Trimble trying for a 2-point floater that missed before Anthony Drmic sealed it for good with two more free throws. Nate Jawai had a season-high 18 points with 9 rebounds in the loss; Cairns’ thirteenth straight.
Of course the whole team will be looking to turn things around having now lost five of their past six games after winning ten of their first eleven. “Probably frustrated more than concerned,” was the feeling from Damian Martin after their latest loss. “I know there’s the ability there, and we’ve shown it in four of the past five losses to have double-digit leads against quality opposition, but the concerning part or the frustrating part is then that when they make a run at us, we can’t build that ten, twelve, fourteen point lead and get to that twenty point lead. “So, it’s frustrating knowing what we’re capable of but then not producing it on the court consistently for 40 minutes. The league’s too strong collectively to let teams get a sniff, particularly on their home court.” The Cairns Taipans have been trying to find a winning formula for over two months now. Thirteen straight losses is not something anyone predicted, no matter what you felt their finals chances were heading into this season. For first year coach Mike Kelly, he is impressed with his team’s resilience through all the losses and said as much post-game after the latest loss in Adelaide. “I think there’s been one game, New Zealand, where we broke,” Kelly admitted. “This group has shown crazy toughness through some losses and some bad basketball, and then showed resilience to come back and put ourselves in a position to tie it there in the last twenty seconds. “It can break your back, but it didn’t with this group. That’s the thing I’m proud of but damn; the things we did to ourselves.” Kelly though is hopeful that the talent and resilience of his team will eventually pay off. “I think we have good players and I think these guys have stuck together through these losses, so we’re going to keep doing that until we get a breakthrough. “I think we have a chance to win games because they’re sticking together.” There are some who are beginning to question whether Kelly is using his players in the right way. The team’s offence has been centred around Trimble all season, and while he’s put up some eye-popping numbers – leading the league in assists and ranking second in scoring – it hasn’t been a recipe for success. Nate Jawai, who spent much of last season hobbled by a foot injury and has been getting back to 100% even as this season has progressed, is an impact player. The big man, who was recently recalled to the Boomers team, always has been. And not just for his size and strength, but for his skill-set. Jawai’s passing ability out of the post is one of the best you’ll see for a traditional five man and that, along with his low-post scoring ability have not been featured consistently. Last week, Jawai had his best offensive game since February 2017 and frequently made decisive moves to score, crash the o-boards or get to the free throw line. He is extremely tough to stop when he’s engaged like that. And of course, his size puts pressure on opposing bigs as even Andrew Bogut found in Round 10. “It is a tough one against Nate, he is so physical, he has a very big body,” Bogut said last week. “At times he throws guys, even like myself, around like rag dolls. “I am usually hurting after the game, he puts the pressure on you.” If Jawai can continue to put pressure on Angus Brandt and Tom Jervis by being aggressive against single coverage and forcing them to double team him, it will open things up a lot for his teammates. That can then hopefully help to alleviate any sense of urgency to create shots and cut down on their turnovers which have plagued them when they can’t quite close out games. Cairns will also need to be ready to face some zone defence from Perth; something they didn’t handle that well at times against Adelaide. However, once they made some adjustments, they were better at attacking the gaps and will need to do the same against Perth.
Excuse me Andrew, may I have that please?Just @damianmartin53 things™?#SYDatPER #NBL19 pic.twitter.com/dLspeBUOlF — NBL (@NBL) December 14, 2018