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R6 Review: Cairns Taipans deliver Melbourne their first blow

Round 6 hoops got off to a scorching start on Wednesday as Illawarra star Kevin Lisch was taught to not poke the bear. Perth's Jermaine Beal single-handedly took the Hawks down on their home floor, while big-ticket item Al Harrington turned it on for his home crowd on Thursday. Friday saw last season's grand finalists remain undefeated on home court as Melbourne suffered their first loss of the year. Meanwhile, players and coaches were getting antsy in Adelaide but the 36ers responded in the best way possible to end the round. Perth Wildcats 99 def Illawarra Hawks 96, Win Entertainment Centre When the chips were down it was almost as though one man occupied the whole floor on Wednesday. Perth's Jermaine Beal blitzed the Illawarra Hawks in the final 6:41 of the fourth quarter after Kevin Lisch embarrassed the reigning Wildcats Player of the Year with a dribble move that sent him slipping to the hardwood. Playing with a bruised ego and broken ankles the third year Wildcat responded to Lisch's triple with a walk-up three of his own on the following possession. While playing a relatively subdued game to that point, the sense was that Beal was in for big things having landed a deep triple on the very first possession of the evening. Former League MVP Lisch (25 points, four assists) had a game to remember but was outpointed by his Perth successor (26 points, four assists), who registered 14 points in the final 6:41 on a barrage of jump shots bordering on the ridiculous. Hawks centre AJ Ogilvy toiled for 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Matt Knight played strong on the interior with 16 points (7-9 FG) and 12 boards. BOX SCORE Sydney Kings 106 def Adelaide 36ers 84, Qantas Credit Union Arena Sydney superstar Al Harrington went off as the Kings redeemed themselves for last week's heartbreak in Adelaide. It was deliverance day for the Kings and the two-headed snake composed of Harrington and point guard Jason Cadee conducted a clinic on how to shoot the long ball. The Sixers (6-25 three-point shooting) simply could not match the onslaught as Harrington's 13-point second quarter – including three triples in under a minute – helped to open a 15-point half-time gap. Sydney held sway until a 12-2 Adelaide run late in the third quarter got the visitors within six before Cadee dropped a much-needed triple in the dying seconds. The Kings were instantly kicked into high gear after managing just two points in the prior 5:27. While Adelaide loomed large the margin never got below five points for the rest of the game as Cadee (nine fourth-quarter points), Harrington (six) and captain Tom Garlepp (seven) hit the necessary shots in a 34-21 final term. Adelaide were led by the swift Jerome Randle (22 points, three assists) and centre Daniel Johnson (15 points, nine rebounds). BOX SCORE New Zealand Breakers 88 def Perth Wildcats 80, Vector Arena This battle of long-time rivals did not disappoint as New Zealand set up a typically gritty win with stout first-half defence. Despite going scoreless in 17 minutes, Breakers returnee Mika Vukona had a massive impact on the home side's intensity as they out-rebounded the league's best on the glass 46-38. New Zealand put the clamps down early as Perth had just 19 points (8-28 FG) to their name past the midway point of the second term.  Pace increased in the second half as both teams scored 26 and 21 points in the third and fourth quarters respectively. A fun battle ensued between bigmen Charles Jackson (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Nathan Jawai (14 points, three assists), with Jackson turning Breakers half-court sets into a dunkfest and Jawai making the most of his size down low. But Corey Webster was New Zealand's main man with 28 points, while Thomas Abercrombie (20 points on 9-14 FG, 11 rebounds) built on his strong showing in Melbourne. Perth, led by Casey Prather (15 points) and propped up by 10 points and eight boards from Tom Jervis, were +14 points in the paint but lost every other major statistical category. BOX SCORE Cairns Taipans 82 def Melbourne United 70, Cairns Convention Centre Cameron Gliddon put in a captain's knock with a game-high 18 points in Cairns' against-the-odds victory over the previously undefeated Melbourne United. Gliddon (18 points and eight rebounds) netted nine fourth-quarter points but it was his defensive effort on the red-hot Chris Goulding that turned heads. Averaging over 21 points per game coming into Friday, the league's hottest scorer was kept to just seven points on 2-12 shooting, with his first field goal coming on the eighth attempt. Cairns imports Markel Starks (16 points, four assists) and Torrey Craig (six points, seven rebounds, four assists) are getting better by the round, while against his old side veteran Mark Worthington (3-10 FG) played powerfully in a nine-point, 10-rebound performance that was better than the box score suggests. Shooting just 38 per cent from the field, it was not exactly a night where everything fell into place for the home side. However, Cairns showed that effort plays compensate for statistical deficiencies as Taipans across the board dug in and did the dirty work – five Snakes registered six rebounds or greater. United's Majok Majok (four points, 14 rebounds) was a pillar of toughness and perseverance inside, but the starting backcourt's combined 7-33 field goals told the tale. BOX SCORE Adelaide 36ers 89 def Townsville Crocodiles 65, Titanium Security Arena Coming in to Saturday's game the 36ers had tasted success only once in 24 days, and coach Joey Wright let them know about it. One win from the last four games was not going to fly with the veteran coach, who subjected his players to a rigorous training session on the Friday between Sydney and Townsville games. It proved just the thing to reboot a group that had conceded an average of 101.5 points over their previous four games, letting in just 25 Townsville points in the second half. Crocs star Brian Conklin had two fierce first-quarter slams on his way to a season-best 21-point, 12-rebound outing, but the visitors managed just one other double-figure contributor in Jordair Jett (12 points on 6-12 shooting). Both sides went stride-for-stride throughout the majority of the first half until Adelaide pulled away to gain an eight-point half-time lead. Despite seven first-half turnovers, what was relatively fluid Crocs offence coagulated into a sloppy 10-turnover, 27-per-cent shooting second half as Adelaide enjoyed the slower 'possession-by-possession' tempo. The Sixers were paced by Jerome Randle's 22 points, while Daniel Johnson combined force with finesse for 17 points and a career-high 16 boards. BOX SCORE A six-game Round 7 kicks off on Wednesday when Perth visit Adelaide, followed by Sydney v New Zealand – their second last game at Qantas Credit Union Arena – on Thursday. Townsville have a mammoth task on Friday as they seek to shut down a hungry Melbourne side wanting to bounce back from their first defeat, while Adelaide stay home to greet Illawarra on Saturday. The round concludes with a double header as New Zealand host Melbourne and Perth host Cairns.  
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