Taipans to Good for Hawks on the Road
The Cairns Taipans have maintained their unbeaten record at home in NBL24 despite the absence of Patrick Miller and Bobi Klintman to down the Illawarra Hawks 81-71.
The Taipans were outplayed in the opening two quarters at the Cairns Convention Centre on Saturday night with the Hawks desperate to breathe some life back into their NBL24 season.
Coach Jacob Jackomas flagged changes after last Friday's 20-point home loss to the Sydney Kings and star guard Tyler Harvey came off the bench, and it worked with Illawarra leading Cairns 48-33 by half-time.
It was a Snakes team up against it too without star import guard Miller (back) and exciting Next Star Klintman (hip soreness), but leaders Bul Kuol (19 points) and Tahjere McCall (16) were the architects of the second-half revival.
Sam Waardenburg also produced another 15 points for Cairns with Lat Mayen contributing strongly with 10 points and eight rebounds while rookie point guard Taran Armstrong continues to find his feet with six points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Gary Clark (19 points) and Sam Froling (18 points, 10 rebounds) led the way for Illawarra, who sprung a surprise when Harvey, the last-second hero when these sides last met, was relegated to sixth man.
Harvey's influence off the bench was sporadic, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field. His backcourt partner Justin Robinson also struggled for 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Both offences spluttered in a scrappy, forgettable opening term, which ended on Harvey's buzzer-beating floater to put the visitors up 18-14.
Froling proved a tough cover in the paint before venturing outside and burying a triple right on halftime to stretch Illawarra's advantage to 38-33.
The Hawks' lead grew to seven points midway through the third period before Cairns, finally, took control through the frontcourt muscle of reserve Akoldah Gak and two-way influence of Kuol.
Kuol's three-pointer in the dying stages of the third stanza gave the Snakes their first lead since the opening stages and the hosts continued to dictate in the fourth.
Kuol and McCall spearheaded separate 13-4 and 10-1 runs to keep Illawarra at bay and glued to the bottom of the ladder.
"Keeping a lead for so long then at the end letting it go with nowhere to go to get it back - that was it," Hawks coach Jacob Jackomas said.
"We tried a lot of things to get this thing right. We can't quit on this."
The Hawks fly home to Wollongong today before preparing for an away match against the New Zealand Breakers next Sunday.
HUNGRY JACK’S NBL ROUND 7
CAIRNS TAIPANS 81 (Kuol 19, McCall 16, Waardenburg 15)
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 71 (Clark 19, Froling 18, Harvey 12)