The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans have put the League on notice, after closing their ABC campaign with a thirty-point clinic to defeat the Brisbane Bullets 91-61 on Monday evening.
The Taipans entered the inaugural Australian Basketball Challenge on the back of two undefeated pre-season tournaments, and they extended their perfect record this year while making NBL records in the process.
Last year the Taipans became the first team to have an MVP in their pre-season line-up (Markel Starks) without winning the pre-season cup, but go back-to-back with Cam Gliddon’s honours this year.
Gliddon took home the Ray Borner Medal on the basis of a 3-2-1 vote system, and such was his dominance, earned the nod before the tournament was even over.
To initiate the new Queensland derby, Fuquan Edwin scored a game-high 23 points on 8/11 shooting and four boards, but the Snakes shared the sugar with five in double figures.
Three Bullets big men led their charge, with Tom Jervis scoring 12, Mitch Young 11 and Daniel Kickert 10.
Jermaine Beal was held scoreless on four shots but dished five assists with just one turnover.
In a tight first few minutes as Jervis and exciting 18-year-old Matt Kenyon found easy buckets down low, while Snakes big Alex Loughton had it working from range.
But in a familiar theme from the weekend, Cairns had soon hit the gas.
The second Jervis subbed out with 3:18 left in the quarter, Cairns struck with a 12-0 run.
Tevin Jackson spearheaded the scoring spurt, while Nnanna Egwu (10 points, six boards) and Damon Heuir joined the party as Cairns went into the second term up 34-19.
The Bullets were primed for a run and playing tough, scrambling body-on-the-line defence, but on the back of Fearne’s pretty offence the Snakes had an answer on most sets – be it second, third or fourth options.
Energy men Kenyon and Jarrad Weeks went tit-for-tat in the middle of the term, while Egwu and Young traded dunks, but the only difference over the 10 minutes was Young’s and-one lay-up right on the half-time buzzer.
Cairns cranked up the defence to hold the home side to just three points over the first six minutes of the third and put the game away.
The improvement in Egwu’s footwork and defensive positioning has been off the charts, and the Chicago-raised centre was a huge factor in the impressive defensive period.
While they were locking down defensively, the Snakes fell in love with the long ball and missing before Gliddon and McCarron put it on the floor and got to the rim to quickly put the game beyond reach.
Edwin (4/6 three-pointers) and McCarron blasted triples and all of a sudden the lead hit 25 in the shadows of three-quarter time.
Bullets veteran Adam Gibson hit back-to-back corner threes early in the final term but the threat of a comeback was very momentary as the Snakes won the final quarter 22-16.
In addition to the impressive three-year streak, it also becomes the fourth consecutive year the Snakes have finished second on the pre-season ladder.
CAIRNS TAIPANS 91 (Edwin 23, Weeks 13, McCarron 11)
BRISBANE BULLETS 61 (Jervis 12, Young 11, Kickert 10)
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