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Taipans Sign Keanu Pinder

The Cairns Taipans have signed Keanu Pinder to the team on a two-year deal (second year mutual option), the first new player on the team’s 2021-22 roster.

The 205cm forward joins the Far North from the Adelaide 36ers where he showed continued improvement in his first year in the NBL; with a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two assists in a Round 16 home win over the Bullets.

Prior to the NBL, Pinder played professionally in Poland with Legia Warszawa for two seasons, averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 2020 before returning home to Australia.

Taipans Head Coach Adam Forde said that the 26-year-old would bring defensive continuity to the group and has a lot of untapped potential the league is yet to see.

“We’re bringing Keanu in for his rim protection – this is an area that this team needs to address, and a void we need to fill. He will bolster us on the defensive end, while on the flip side he’s also a lob threat.

“Keanu plays above the rim, he’s great in transition and we’ll be able to get out and run and just really capitalise on his skill set,” said Coach Forde.

“I’ve known him since he was 16 years old, I coached him as a junior, and I know who he is as a person and what character he brings. He’s the type of guy you want to have in the locker room, and he will be a great fit for the Taipans.

“What he brings is unique to the league, and he still has massive room for improvement. He’s hungry and has a point to prove, so I think it’ll be beneficial for us to provide him with the platform to do so.”

Originally from Derby in WA, Pinder suited up for the Australian Emus in the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship before moving to the States.

He attended Sunrise Christian Academy and Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring to the University of Arizona. He averaged 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in his final season but was revered for his defensive contributions.

Pinder said that signing with the Taipans couldn’t have been an easier decision.

“I jumped at the chance to join the Taipans – Fordey is one of my favourite people. He coached me in the SBL when I was younger, when I was on the U20 state team, and I even did work experience with him at Basketball WA. Every team he has been on has seen success, and that’s no coincidence at all because he knows what he is doing,” he said.

“The Taipans are a great team that play my style of game – they play athletically, they move the ball well and throw lobs. It’ll be so much fun to play with Nate Jawai, Cam Oliver and Scott Machado in particular – he’s a pass-first point guard and that’s important to me.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot from my first season in the NBL. I know I got in foul trouble a lot because I was playing too physically, but that’s how I played in Poland. I’ve since adapted to the system, learnt how to face adversity, and adjust. Now I just can’t wait for next season to start.”

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